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KAPO attorneys seek review of case by US Supreme Court

The legal group representing Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners has filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review its lawsuit over Kitsap County shoreline regulations.

According to a news release from Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Brian Hodges, the case is about KAPO challenging “Kitsap County regulations that force every shoreline property owner to surrender large portions of their properties to create fish and wildlife habitat areas.”

The regulations at issue were adopted in 2005, when Kitsap County reclassified its 269 miles of marine shoreline as critical fish habitat.

Hodges calls the county’s action a “big buffer land grab.”

“The county’s regulations force every one of its 7,000 shoreline property owners to dedicate either 50 or 100 feet of his or her shoreline as an ‘undisturbed natural vegetation area’ to provide buffers for fish habitat any time he or she seeks a permit,” Hodges said in the news release. “The regulations make no attempt to base buffer size on the actual environmental and geographic conditions on the county’s shorelines, and did not consider any site-specific variables, such as existing vegetation and land uses.”

Kitsap County has been going through a process to update its Shoreline Master Plan for about 18 months.

Whatever the final buffer requirements are, county commissioners have indicated that existing structures on shoreline properties could be grand-fathered in as conforming uses, which would exempt them from the buffer requirements.

That would not be sufficient to address property owners’ concerns, KAPO officials have said.

Details about the regulations and Bellevue-based Pacific Legal Foundation’s constitutional challenge to them may be found at http://plf.typepad.com/plf/2011/10/plf-asks-us-supreme-court-to-review-big-buffer-case.html

The case is Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners v. Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board.

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