RICHLAND, Wash. – Two conservation groups have filed a lawsuit against county commissioners on the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge. The Skamania County commissioners have lifted a development moratorium.
Michael Lang is with the conservation group Friends of the Columbia Gorge. He says lifting the ban would allow development on several thousand acres of forestland.
“What it creates is really a free-for-all environment where any land use and construction, any development, is allowed outright. It’s allowed without any public review,” Lang says.
The groups want Skamania County commissioners to reinstate the development ban and adopt zoning ordinances. A zoning plan for the area would likely include an environmental impact statement, which would assess any damage development might pose.
But Commissioner Paul Pearce says that could cost more than $1 million. He says Skamania County followed the law when it lifted the ban.
“Our intention is to start zoning those lands right away,” Pearce says.
Pearce says the move is part of a larger plan to create future development. He says the development ban had to be lifted so that commissioners could zone two other parts of the county as commercial areas.
Conservation group Save Our Scenic Area is also part of the suit.
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