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  • Arne Mortensen

Castle Rock RTA - County residents lose more property rights


Preface

On 23December2019 I posted on my blog the resolution that the BoCC passed regarding the UGA/RTA (urban growth area/rural transition area) for Castle Rock (CR). That link is here. If you haven't read it, please do.

In that posting I mentioned that the resolution was the elementary part of the RTA issue, and that I shortly would post the agreement that has the details of the RTA agreement between the County and CR. I am a few days later than I had planned for this disclosure/alert.

In the agreement below you will note that people building in this RTA may be required to connect to water and sewer if available. Given that I fight any loss of property rights, this aspect of forcing people to take services they may not want, is quite bothersome. There already are simple rules to cover the issue of water availability for prospective building.

I was puzzled why CR needed to get the County to force hook-ups because the county in no way prevented the City from servicing the RTA. Why not let the people decide? The original agreement draft by CR administration gave CR the “exclusive” rights to provide service in the RTA. With discussion, I was able to kill that condition, the existence of which serves to tell us the real attitude of the City toward county citizens.

It always was about money, but it was Freeguy who made it starkly obvious to me:

  • Here is the table for hook-up fees by CR.

  • Here are the service rates.

  • County residents pay a 50% surcharge for service.

The unseen here is that county residents pay 50% more than CR city residents for these services. Rather than choosing to annex the RTA, which would be a straightforward approach, CR chooses to use the County to enforce their plans. In this manner, the City gets more money. With a 50% surcharge, the City can view the County residents as a steady source of “extra” money.

The concept is simple: people in the city should abide by city rules; people in the county should abide by county rules. By this agreement, the entanglement of government grows. Government already is unfathomable for the public (and it should not be so); we should be simplifying not complicating government. Of course, a complicated government requires bureaucracy to manage the complexity, and it keeps the public dazed with entangled requirements.

One final admonition: the public should keep in mind the Camel's nose in the tent syndrome. This agreement is the nose; as the the camel wants to get in the tent, these terms will change or get interpreted differently.

The agreement

Part I

Summary

The Rural Transition Area Program applies only to new development of greater than four residential dwelling units, as well as commercial and industrial development. The Program is intended to provide certainty for applicants proposing higher-density development within the Rural Transition Area (RTA) of Castle Rock for provision of a water and/or sewer services.

Part II

Procedures

  • Geographical areas of the Rural Transition Area (RTA) shall be as delineated in the Castle Rock Rural Transition Area Map (Appendix A)

  • Unless the RTA is amended as provided for in this agreement, City water and/or sewer service facilities shall not extend beyond the Castle Rock RTA.

  • Sewer Service within the RTA

  1. New industrial and commercial development, as well as new residential development of greater than four units shall utilize City sewer service if practical. Generally, practical means:

  • City sewer service is within 200 feet of the property line;

  • Necessary permission can be obtained from intervening property owners, if any; and

  • Intervening property is free from natural or manmade obstructions that would make service extension prohibitively expensive or otherwise undesirable.

  1. The applicant and the City may negotiate installation of infrastructure to serve anticipated future growth.

  2. It shall not be the legal obligation of the City or County to bear the cost of extending and connecting sewer lines to permit development.

  3. Adjacent landowners are not required to connect to sewer services as they become available.

  • Water Service within the RTA

  1. New commercial and industrial development, as well as new residential development of greater than four units shall utilize City water service if practical. Generally, practical means:

  • City water service is within 200 feet of the property line;

  • Necessary permission can be obtained from intervening property owners, if any; and

  • Intervening property is free from natural or manmade obstructions that would make service extension prohibitively expensive or otherwise undesirable.

  1. The applicant and the City may negotiate installation of infrastructure sufficient to serve anticipated future growth.

  2. It shall not be the legal obligation of the City or County to bear the cost of extending and connecting water lines to permit development.

  3. Adjacent landowners are not required to connect to water services as they become available.

Part III

Coordination

Land use proposals that include new commercial or industrial development, or new development of greater than four residential units in unincorporated areas within the RTA shall be coordinated between County and City in a timely manner as outlined below.

  • For all proposals using City sanitary sewer and/or water service, the County will ask the City to certify whether services are available.

  • For proposals that require a pre-application conference or staff consult, the City and the County shall agree as to whether City or County design standards are most reasonable for the applicant to utilize. These design standards will be outlined for the applicant at the pre-application conference or staff consult.

  • For proposals that require a public hearing, the following procedures shall apply:

  1. Cowlitz County shall notify the City, to the attention of the City Clerk-Treasurer, in writing of the proposal within five (5) calendar days of receipt of a complete application. The notification shall include a copy of the application materials as submitted.

  2. Within thirty (30) days, City staff shall review the proposal and consult with their planning commission chairman to determine if the city planning commission and /or council review and response is necessary. If not, staff shall respond to the county as appropriate.

  • For proposals not requiring a public hearing by the County, the County shall notify the City of the proposal in writing. The City shall have ten (10) working days to review and comment at its option to the County official in charge.

Part IV

Amendment

  • Requests for Amendment of the RTA may be initiated by the County, the City, or a private party. An amendment shall be processed concurrently with a Comprehensive Plan Amendment through the County.

  • Updates to the Cowlitz County Comprehensive Plan shall be consistent with the amendment process found in the Cowlitz County Comprehensive Plan (2017) and subsequent amendments, as well as those found in Part III of this agreement.


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