Senate approves Wilson measure to provide land use predictability

People building a home or a development would no longer have the rules changed on them in the middle of a project under a new bill passed in the Senate. The bill sponsored by Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, would vest building and permit applications to the zoning, environmental and land use regulations in place at the time of approval.

“We’ve seen situations where a developer has the rug pulled from under them by rules that are changed after they’ve been through the extensive building permit process,” said Wilson. “Cities, counties and developers need predictable rules on land use if we want to have stable growth. Long-term planning requires consistent rules of the road for development to follow.”

Senate Bill 5212 was introduced in response to the recent Snohomish County et al v. Pollution Control Hearings Board Supreme Court case that demonstrated the need for clarity in vesting for land use applications. Building permit applications, preliminary plat approval of a subdivision and short plat approval of a short subdivision all would vest to the regulations in effect at the date of application under the legislation.

Under the court’s decision, some new regulations could be applied retroactively to an approved permit or plat approval.

“The possibility of the rules being changed mid-project has a chilling effect on good development,” said Wilson. “This also creates an unstable legal landscape for cities and counties as they plan growth for the future. If a project can meet the standards of a community and plays by the rules, it should not have those standards and rules changed on them.”

The bill passes to the House for consideration.