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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eyman aiding backers of land-use initiative

Associated Press

TACOMA – Washington’s initiative king, Tim Eyman, is offering support to groups interested in a version of Oregon’s controversial land-use law, which stresses private property rights and can force government compensation to landowners.

Oregon voters approved the new law in November, jarring their state’s decades-old reputation for some of the strictest land-use rules in the nation.

They also inspired property-rights advocates north of the state line. Some of the state’s most powerful interest groups met in Olympia on Friday to discuss offering an initiative similar to Oregon’s Measure 37, either next fall or in 2006.

“The conclusion was the time was ripe for such an initiative,” said Gary Tripp of a group called Bainbridge Citizens United. “We are going to draft an initiative ASAP.”

Tripp organized the meeting attended by several building groups and initiative veterans, including Eyman, the Building Industry Association of Washington and the Washington State Grange.

Eyman said he went to offer support for a property-rights initiative, not to lead one. But he figures there’s no “if” about an initiative – it’s just a question of when.

Environmental activists say they’ll be ready to fight it.

“We’re definitely starting to work on the issue,” said Tim Trohimovich, planning director for the environmental group 1000 Friends of Washington.

Under the Oregon measure, approved by a 60 percent margin, property owners who can show that environmental or zoning rules have hurt their investments can force local governments to compensate them for losses or exempt them from the rules.

A lawsuit challenging the measure was announced Friday by a land-use watchdog group and several county farm bureaus. They contend Measure 37 violates the state’s constitution.

Oregon’s land-use planning laws, in effect for 30 years, are designed to rein in suburban sprawl and protect farmland.

Washington’s landmark 1990 Growth Management Act contains similar provisions, including “urban growth areas” intended to absorb growth and preserve farms and forests.

It’s unclear what a Washington version of Measure 37 would do to the state’s growth law.