Leaping Through Loopholes in Washington's Growth Management Act

Despite laws meant to protect open space and limit sprawl development, developers in Washington have found a legal way to get major housing projects approved in Washington.

In the first of a two-part series, Crosscut and InvestigateWest delve into how a tiny provision in the state's laws have enabled developments that undercut efforts to manage growth.

"The Growth Management Act - passed in 1990 to rein in runaway development that chokes roads, spurs water pollution and carpets the countryside in concrete - is only one of a number of environmental and land-use laws to be undercut by a feature of Washington law that gives developers unusually favorable treatment compared to most other states.

Known as "vesting" and dating back more than half a century, the legal provision means that if a developer learns a new law is coming that would restrict building, he or she can draw up preliminary plans for a subdivision, file the paperwork with the county - and avoid the new, more restrictive rules. Even if construction doesn't start for years."

Full Story: Odd provision in state law severely undercuts growth management


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