• Arne Mortensen

A loss of property rights

On Tuesday, the 28th of November, 2017, at 10:00 AM there was a public hearing to complete the consideration of a request by the City of Castle Rock that the county agree to align the county’s notion of the UGA boundaries to those of Castle Rock. I wrote about the first meeting in this blog entry; please refer to that entry to fill in the obvious lack of detail that would frame a complete picture of the issue.

The agreement with the county dates to 1984, with the prior last boundary re-alignment in 1987. I, like most citizens (I am sure), was unaware of this completely voluntary agreement by the county. Apparently the divergence of the boundaries, as seen by Castle Rock, were not an issue until this October when a developer of a tract of homes in the NEW UGA wanted assurance that anyone building a home in that new UGA would be forced to connect to the City of Castle Rock municipal water supply.

More detail: the developer wants to build homes on ½ acre lots, but using wells to supply potable water to each home would not work, so the developer needs the municipal water supply to be extended to the planned development. But, who pays for the extension of the municipal water supply? I am not clear about the city and developer plans; the developer pays for the extension of the water line, but wants to be reimbursed by anyone else who might build in that UGA. With the UGA alignment in place, the county is used as the strong arm to force hooking-up to the municapl water supply to further the well-being of the developer.

There is no justification for using the county for this purpose. Here are some considerations:

  • The county did not prevent the developer and the city of Castle Rock from moving forward under current rules. This fact was made clear during the hearing.

  • The city of Castle Rock can initiate a process of annexation any time it desires; therefore, this approach of forcing city rules on county residents is disingenuous.

  • Not one Castle Rock citizen, not counting the city manager and the mayor, were at the hearing. The developers may have been from Castle Rock, but that is irrelevant to the point. In my experience, this is very telling … of nothing good. They did claim to have gotten the blessing of the citizens.

  • Property rights are very important; without them we have the expectation of becoming a Venezuela, a state which takes what it wants from the citizens.

It was my great expectation that this obvious abuse of power would be voted down that led to my disappointment after my colleagues voted to support this request.

At a meeting that evening, after I explained the situation to the PCOs attending the monthly Republican Central Committee, meeting Chris Bornstedt asked me to give a reason why one would vote for the measure. I was at a loss to offer even one rational, valid reason of general welfare for the county. During that meeting, two of the PCOs from that part of the county had tried to track this hearing but to no avail. BTW, they were against the proposal.

So, where can we go from here? With Cowlitz County citizens addressing their commissioner, this can be undone simply with a resolution dissolving the agreement in its entirety; it simply needs public attention.

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