• Arne Mortensen

The Son of the Castle Rock UGA (urban growth area)

Tuesday, 17 December 2019, at the regular Tuesday hearing, the BoCC adopted the resolution below. Both Dennis Weber and Joe Gardner voted for it; I voted against it. The resolution doesn’t have much to it on the surface because the teeth are in the agreement, which I will post shortly in a companion blog entry.

I waited a few days before writing this to let my thoughts settle down, in other words, to cool off.

My disappointment has several factors:

  1. This issue, in nearly identical form, came up in October of 2017, and the voting was the same then as now. Here is the link to that entry. Not shown is that an overwhelming majority of residents directly in the path of what at that time was called a UGA rose up strongly after the passage of that agenda item and essentially forced the City of Castle Rock to rescind the entire UGA concept. Score 1 for the citizens.

  2. Typical of government, if you do not get the answer you want because of the citizens, you can change the name and try again. What was the UGA (urban growth area) now is RTA (rural transition area). One good thing is that the UGA bound the people in that area to a horrid 1984 agreement; the new agreement is much better, but still too much and not necessary and not desirable.

  3. This resolution appeared on the Tuesday agenda the day before, with no warning or discussion, and people knew that I was opposed to the agreement, and consequently to the resolution. There had been a workshop a couple of weeks before which included Paul Helenberg and David Vorse, the mayor and public works director, respectively, of Castle Rock. It was a less than pleasant meeting. I believe that I had requested a fundamental change to the City of Castle Rock drafted agreement, not just the tweaks that appeared on Tuesday. The change I suggested was that the County would not prevent (would allow) the City to offer water and sewer services to those areas in the County. The point I insisted on is that the County was not to be used to coerce its citizens into involuntary agreement.

  4. As in the previous time, the citizens had not been consulted and the timing is such that an opportunity for awareness was eliminated. Yet the previous effort was recent enough that it included all the same players such that the will of the citizens was no mystery. This is just like the handling of I-976, illustrating that the people are not in charge and the government knows best.

  5. That Dennis Weber voted for this, sadly, is to be expected. He has all these great plans for the people, and he likes government programs. He decides for you, and you get to pay. But, why Joe Gardner voted for this again is a puzzle. Property rights principle would have led him to vote no. Joe offered that this agreement just duplicates what is in the Comprehensive Plan for the County, so it is okay. That is not a good reason to add yet another entanglement of government entities. Just imagine that now the Comprehensive Plan, once an intentionally flexible document, may be constrained by the resolution. And why would one want to have various requirements spread around several documents? It is in this manner that citizens have no chance to fight government overreach. You can see the discussion on the kltv tape for that meeting; it is very early on the tape. Here is the link.

If you are still with me, please follow me as I comment on details of this resolution. I take a great deal of pride in our county and our citizens, and my critiques are intended to make us better. If I am wrong, then I should be overruled; hopefully someone will try to educate me.

So, in order of the WHEREAS clauses:

  1. Trivial: “presently” is not the correct word; “currently” is the correct word. Currently means now; presently means very soon and for certain.

  2. Not needed.

  3. That issue already is addressed in the comprehensive plan.

  4. What is efficient management? Yet another way of planning your life for some unspecified and not guaranteed gain.

  5. No one is stopping anyone from providing services. The City is looking for the County to force people to become the customer of the City. The process is already fully prescribed: you won’t get a building permit until you show you have potable water.



A Resolution adopting an agreement with the X Resolution No. _______________

City of Castle Rock regarding a Rural Transition Area X




WHEREAS, the City of Castle Rock presently provides public water and sanitary sewer services outside the limits of its municipal boundary within unincorporated Cowlitz County; and

WHEREAS, the City and the County recognize the need to coordinate comprehensive planning and capital facilities planning for the efficient management of these public services; and

WHEREAS, the City and the County desire to provide a dependable process for development of property in the County that may require public services from the City; and

NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED that the Board of Commissioners of Cowlitz County, Washington, adopt an agreement with the City of Castle Rock regarding it’s Rural Transition Area.





Joe Gardner, Chairman


Dennis P. Weber, Commissioner


Arne Mortensen, Commissioner




Tiffany Ostreim

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