04/04/2006: "Court Asked Not To Grant Stay Of Decision On ADUs"
As of late last week, an Orcas couple have argued in a brief to the Court of Appeals that "Further delay in the resolution of this case thwarts the clear intent of the legislature that these disputes be determined expeditiously". Margaret Manning and Timothy Blanchard of Orcas have filed an Amicus Brief in the case of Friends of the San Juans (Lynn Bahrych, Joe Symons and Maile Johnson) vs. San Juan County, in which they ask the court to not extend the date for the current stay of proceedings on the "guest house" case now before the court. A case that the County Council and the Friends have asked the court to not decide, at least for now. Previous Story
It is believed that the court has reached a decision, and the Council and the Friends are concerned that, for whatever reason, they may not like what the court has to say. Their idea was to reach an agreement between the Council and the Friends, hold public hearings, and then forward the final agreement to the State in the hopes the State will find the agreement to be compliant with the Growth Management Act; and if so, the need for a decision from the court would become moot.
Based on what the County and the Friends have come up with, and then tightened by the Planning Commission, there is little doubt that the State will approve it, since it goes beyond what is required. Previous Story
The concern of many in the county, and the reason for the new request from Manning and Blanchard, is that based on the past vote on the guest house issue, the desire of the majority of the citizens of San Juan County are not reflected in the proposal by the Council and the Friends. They believe the Court of Appeals may very well let the County have a more generous set of regulations than those that have been proposed by the Council and the Friends. Manning stated that significant changes in binding court precedent should incline the Court of Appeals to rule in favor of the County. "The Washington Supreme Court has ruled that Counties have significant discretion in weighing the 13 goals of the GMA. Nothing requires so-called ‘structural density' to be the overriding factor, even if ones assumes that guesthouses ‘double' density."
Manning said: "The County Council told us last year that settling the case would at least allow some homeowners in rural and resource areas to build guesthouses. Now, they are pushing an ordinance that eliminates all detached guesthouses and puts new, severe restrictions on attached and internal guesthouses. A decision by the Court of Appeals against the County could certainly do no worse than what the plaintiffs in the case have already extracted from the County Council; a decision by the court in favor of the County will allow the overwhelming majority of homeowners who support detached guesthouses to continue that tradition."
We will all have to now wait and see who moves next. Click here to access the Amicus Brief