The Thurston County commission has extended a conservation ordinance that critics say infringes on property owners' rights and deflates property values.
After Tuesday’s meeting, Commissioner Karen Valenzuela said extending the interim prairie and oak woodland conservation ordinance for six months was necessary until the county adopts a larger critical-areas ordinance this spring. The interim ordinance is based on science provided by the state and U.S. departments of fish and wildlife. The larger critical-areas ordinance governs how development and redevelopment can occur on or near environmentally sensitive lands, according to the county.
Residents and property owners questioned the interim ordinance during a recent public hearing, county associate planner Andrew Deffobis said.
About 60 people attended last week’s hearing, and a majority either voiced concerns about the ordinance or stated their opposition to it.
Concerns included the effect on property values, infringement on property owners’ rights and effects on permitting.
There will be additional times for people to testify as the critical-areas ordinance rolls out; it will include some of the same provisions as the prairie ordinance, Deffobis said.
Valenzuela dismissed some residents’ claims about the threatened or endangered status of several species in the area, including the Mazama pocket gopher, and property-value declines.
Scott Roberts, the property-rights director for the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, said he spoke out against the science used in the process.
“I don’t think they’ve got it right,” Roberts said. He added that the county needs to study the issue further and that commissioners should listen to the heavy criticism from residents.
“We won’t stop until we see public property rights restored to its citizens,” Roberts said.
Deffobis said people criticizing the science have yet to produce science the county can use.
Nate Hulings: 360-754-5476 firstname.lastname@example.org www.theolympian.com/outsideoly