Snohomish County Utilities to Develop Green Building Incentive Program
February 10, 2017 – Snohomish County PUD has identified MBA Built Green as their partner in offering green building incentives to the industry. Your Association in partnership with Snohomish County PUD and Puget Sound Energy welcome your input to identify incentives relevant to your projects in Snohomish County. Please share your ideas with Leah Missik, your Association Built Green Program Manager, at 425.460.8238.
Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Bill Addressing Hirst Decision
January 27, 2017 – SB 5239 was heard by the Senate Agriculture, Water, Trade, and Economic Development Committee this week and is supported by the MBA, BIAW, Realtors, rural property owners, and a number of other stakeholders. This bill is in response to the recent Washington Supreme Court “Hirst” Decision. It would amend the GMA to allow local jurisdictions to rely on Department of Ecology’s water resources rules when approving a building permit, subdivision, dedication, or short subdivision to determine if there is available potable water. If adopted, the bill also provides that a permit-exempt groundwater withdrawal may not be deemed or considered to be causing impairment or injury to a minimum flow or other similar policy established by Ecology, regardless of the policy's priority date. Finally, the bill amends the building permit statute and the subdivision statute to say reliance on adopted instream flow rules is evidence of proof for water availability. For more information, please contact Nick Harper, Senior Director of Strategy & Policy, at 425.460.8207.
Snohomish County Launches Exempt Well Permit Page, Publishes Bulletin
January 20, 2017 – Snohomish County Planning and Development Services (PDS) has launched an informational webpage that may assist those concerned about use of exempt wells in light of the recent Hirst Decision. In addition, the site provides links to its Assistance Bulletin and a document permit applicants will be asked to sign that acknowledges the permit does not warranty or guarantee future availability of water. It is our understanding other counties will be asking applicants to sign similar documents.
The page can be accessed here.
MBA Testifies in Support of Kent Stormwater Manual Update
January 16, 2017 – This week at the Kent City Council your Association testified in favor of the amended version of the city’s stormwater manual. The changes clarified the allowance of vaults in subdivisions, amended the manual to mirror King County’s manual to allow 75% of pond perimeters to be walls, and the 15-foot embankments to encroach into the 10-foot critical area buffer and/or the pond landscape setbacks. Combined, these changes will result in greater densities and help increase the number of homes built in Kent. The effective date for the updated manual is 60 days after adoption, which is Saturday, March 18. It is not yet known if the city will enforce the new manual beginning on Friday, March 17 or Monday March 20. For more information, please contact King County Manager David Hoffman at 425.460.8224
Exempt Well Decision Hurting Rural Property Owners
November 4, 2016 – The recent state Supreme Court Hirst decision has rural property owners who rely on exempt wells for water and development potential scrambling for solutions. In short, the decision says counties can no longer rely on state Department of Ecology rules regarding water availability, they must make their own determinations if there is adequate water before permitting exempt wells. While some counties are acting quickly to interpret the decision, others, such as Snohomish County, are collecting information before acting.
Early consensus among stakeholders is that state legislative action will be needed to address the ruling to remove what may in effect be a building moratorium for many rural property owners. Such legislation would be complex, involving amendments to the Growth Management Act and codes related to permitting, water, and sub-divisions. Our primary message to local government is to not act precipitously.
To follow a useful MSRC blog on the topic, click here. For more information, please contact Snohomish County Manager Mike Pattison at 425.460.8203.