Winery Win: GMHB Rules in Favor of Environmental Protections
May 29, 2020
Growth Management Hearings Board concludes that the King County Wineries, Breweries, and Distilleries Ordinance violates state laws to protect the environment
On March 26, 2020, the Growth Management Hearings Board (Board) granted Futurewise’s and the Friends of the Sammamish Valley’s dispositive motion. The Board agreed the King County Wineries, Breweries, and Distilleries Ordinance violated the Washington State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).
The board granted the motion because King County did not review the environmental impacts of the ordinance early enough in the process. This is important because local governments and state agencies benefit from considering the potential adverse impacts of their decisions early to tailor their decisions to lessen adverse environmental impacts such as water pollution. The board also concluded that the environmental document the County prepared, called a SEPA Checklist, did not disclose the potential adverse impacts of the ordinance including adverse impacts on ground water quality, working farms, and increased demand for water in near streams that already have flows too low to sustain the salmon runs on which fishers and the Southern Resident Orcas depend. The board directed the County to take another look at the impacts of the ordinance by November 6, 2020.
The board also concluded that the potential adverse impacts of the Wineries, Breweries, and Distilleries Ordinance, such as its potential impacts on rural character, water quality, working farms, and water availability substantially interfered with the goals of the Growth Management Act. Therefore, the Board concluded that new permit applications cannot be approved using the ordinance. This will prevent adverse impacts on rural areas and agricultural lands while the county conducts a new review of the environmental impacts.
Futurewise appreciates that the King County Executive, staff, and County Council improved the proposed ordinance during the review process. Futurewise looks forward to working with the County as it conducts the environmental review and revises the ordinance.
Read more about the original law in our Wonkabout Washington column from May 2019.