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Some E. WA counties could opt out of Growth Managment

OLYMPIA — Four small Eastern Washington counties could opt out of many requirements of the Growth Management Act under a bill approved unanimously by the Senate.

SB 6194 allows counties with fewer than 20,000 people that voluntarily agreed to join the GMA in the past can decide to drop out of the law, which is designed to control development and fight urban sprawl. They'd have to provide the same level of legal protection for some critical environmental areas and comply with other state land use laws.

The law would cover four counties — Pend Oreille, Ferry, Garfield and Columbia. The bill was sent to the House on a 47-0 vote.

Growth Management: Should counties be allowed out?

OLYMPIA – The state's environmental community is fighting a plan to allow four lightly populated Eastern Washington counties to opt out of the Growth Management Act.
But in trying to generate opposition to the proposed change, the group Futurewise seriously overstated the impact that law has on Ferry County, one of four that would be allowed to drop the law under HB 1094 .
 GMA is protecting nearly three-quarters of a million acres of farmland in Ferry County, keeping it from being “paved over,” the Seattle-based organization claimed in a recent website posting and a separate appeal for funds.
“In Washington, it’s far too easy to pave over farmland if it’s not designated as such,” the group said on its website. “That’s why we were fighting so hard to get the county to property designate and protect the best of the county’s 749,452 acres of land in farms and ranching.”
Wait a minute, said Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, sponsor of the bill. There aren't 750,000 acres of farmland – or any other kind of land – subject to GMA in Ferry County…

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