[3/15/22] Lawsuit Filed Against Okanogan County Comprehensive Plan

Posted in Environment, Local Government & Meetings

Just two months after the Okanogan County commissioners adopted a new comprehensive plan, two conservation groups have sued the county over what they say is the plan’s failure to protect water, natural resources, and prepare for wildfire risk. The lawsuit also charges that the county violated state law by not providing adequate opportunity for the public to review and comment on all components of the plan.

The Methow Valley Citizens Council and Futurewise filed the lawsuit against the county on March 1. This is not the first time the two groups have sued the county over its comp plan.

The plan that’s the subject of the lawsuit was adopted by the commissioners this past December 29. It was in part the outcome of a review the commissioners agreed to in Okanogan County Superior Court after MVCC and Futurewise sued the county over the last iteration of the comp plan in January 2015, just weeks after the plan was adopted in December 2014.

The current lawsuit raises many of the same issues as the 2015 lawsuit, and says the county still hasn’t addressed them — namely, that the comp plan violates state law because it doesn’t adequately protect the quality and quantity of surface and groundwater. It also alleges that the plan doesn’t account for or prepare for the risk of wildfire or landslide hazards associated with fire. The lawsuit also contends that the plan doesn’t sufficiently protect habitat for wildlife.

The plaintiffs allege that the new plan — like the previous one — fails to identify and protect farmland and forestland with long-term commercial significance. They also say it fails to protect land with mineral resources.

The plaintiffs say their members are affected by the plan and its failure to protect land and water.

Methow Valley Citizen’s Council’s mission is to raise a voice for protection of the Methow Valley’s natural environment and rural character. Futurewise is a statewide public interest group that promotes healthy communities while protecting farmland, forests and shorelines, according to the lawsuit.

Van Ness Feldman, the law firm that handles land-use matters for the county, is reviewing the complaint, no date has been set for the court hearing.