Thurston County is now under for hire for its handling of the Mazama pocket gopher, which is threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act and has gained some notoriety in developer circles.
Yesterday, the Olympia Master Builders, the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce and Hinkle Homes announced that they have filed a lawsuit against the county. In essence, the litigation asks the county to “stop its unlawful interim permitting process for land use applications” and challenges the lack of public process.
Moreover, the group states, the group takes issue with the fact that the county has transferred permitting authority to a federal agency, whereas “tens of thousands” of other local jurisdictions continue to review and issue land use permits following the federal listing of a species.
“We do not feel that the county has acted in the best interest of the community,” said OMB Executive Officer Troy Nichols in a statement. “Furthermore, the 2015 interim gopher review process directly contradicts the GMA's statutory priority of supporting economic development, property rights, predictable permitting and citizen participation.”
The group concludes that the interim permitting process is unlawful and has harmed property owners and citizens throughout Thurston County, imposing additional screenings, constricting the window to process applications and arbitrarily expanding the amount of Mazama pocket gopher habitat without technical justification — among other problems.