Pacific Legal Foundation jumps into legal battle over CAO

The Pacific Legal Foundation has filed an amicus curiae brief with San Juan County Superior Court in the appeal of the Growth Management Hearings Board decision on the critical areas ordinances.

The brief supports the positions of the Common Sense Alliance and P.J. Taggares Company, petitioners in the continuing challenge to the final decision and order of the Hearings Board.

Friends of the San Juans is a co-petitioner in the case, but is contesting other issues and does not support the CSA positions. San Juan County Prosecutor Randy Gaylord is defending the county.

The Pacific Legal Foundation, based in Sacramento with an office in Bellevue, is an active litigator in property rights and environmental cases across the United States, most often on behalf of property owners. Among many other cases, the foundation in 2012 sought to have Endangered Species Act protections removed for southern resident killer whales, a petition that was rejected in 2013.

In this case, the PLF's "friend of the court" brief argues that water quality buffers in the CAO create "an unconstitutional burden on the development of property," according to a CSA press release.

The County Council is considering amendments to the CAO concerning water quality buffers and other issues. These amendments are the subject of public hearings on Feb. 4 and Feb. 11.

After the council amends the CAO, the hearings board must decide whether the amendments comply with growth management laws and rules. Amended pleadings and another set of briefs may have to be filed in the court case after the hearings board's decision.

The final hearing on the court case had been scheduled for Feb. 24 before Superior Court Judge Don Eaton, but that hearing has been postponed until March 24 because of a court scheduling conflict.

— Steve Wehrly



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