January 21, 2014

Will Koontz bring big changes to Washington state?

By Brian T. Hodges Senior Attorney

For the past several months, I have been spending quite a bit of time on the road, speaking to citizen groups and lawyers about PLF’s landmark victory in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District. In particular, I have been focusing on the decision’s potential impact on Washington land use law. I conclude that, because Washington state relies so heavily on permit conditions to drive its public environmental policies, Koontz will bring big changes to land use permitting in the state. Most immediately, the decision will require permitting agencies to prove how and why their exactions are warranted—a marked shift from the current anti-property owner status quo.

Here is a video of my recent talk at the Northwest Business Club in Bellingham, Washington.

learn more about

St. Johns River Water Management District v. Koontz

Coy A. Koontz sought to develop commercial land, most of which lies within a riparian habitat protection zone in Orange County, Florida. He applied for a dredge and fill permit with the St. Johns Water Management District, which  agreed to grant the permit only on the condition that he place a conservation easement over his land, and perform mitigation off-site by replacing culverts and plugging certain drainage canals on distant District-owned properties. When Koontz refused to perform the off-site mitigation, St. Johns denied the permit. PLF successfully represented Koontz before the U.S. Supreme Court, which held that a land-use agency cannot condition a permit on the payment of a mitigation fee to be used to pay for facilities that have no connection to the impacts of the permitted development.

Read more

What to read next