We invite you to join us June 6 in Tacoma for a conference entitled "Re-Using Contaminated Land: Transactions & Technologies." The conference will address the legal and technical aspects of "brownfields" development. Gordon Thomas Honeywell is proud to be a premiere sponsor of the conference. The agenda and other information is available here.
Recently in land use Category
In another troubling example of growing local opposition to renewable energy development, the Whatcom County Council has adopted a new ordinance that restricts large wind generators (above 50 kW capacity) to County lands zoned for heavy-impact industrial uses. Because the County's best wind resources are located along windy ridges, rather than in low-elevation industrial areas, the ordinance effectively bans new utility-scale wind power development in Whatcom County.
The ordinance is the product of a lengthy public process in Whatcom County, initiated by neighbors' reactions against a 2010 proposal to build a community-owned wind turbine on Squalicum Mountain. The new ordinance replaces a 2008 ordinance that allowed construction of wind turbines across much of the County. The new ordinance is part of a disturbing trend of organized opposition to renewable energy development, at least some of which appears to be funded by the fossil fuel industry.
Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Near The Wires: Washington Supreme Court Accepts Review of EMF Damages Case
Many in the electric utility industry thought that the threat of liability arising from human exposure to Electromagnetic Fields ("EMF") had been put to rest years ago. The Washington Supreme Court, however, recently accepted review of a case that will decide whether lawsuits claiming damages from EMF exposure will be entertained in Washington courts despite the nearly unanimous rejection of such suits in other states. Because EMF is associated with almost all electric equipment, the case has potentially enormous consequences for Washington's electric utilities, as well as other industries that use electric or electronic equipment in almost any form, ranging from housing to telecommunications. Because the Court has accepted review of the plaintiffs' claims of inverse condemnation based on EMF exposure on their properties, the case also has serious implications for cities, counties, and other government agencies that may become involved land use decisions allowing the construction of substations, distribution and transmission lines, and other electric utility infrastructure.
The case arises from construction of a new substation by Puget Sound Energy ("PSE") in a residential neighborhood of Kirkland, Washington. PSE requested, and Kirkland granted, relatively modest zoning variances to allow construction of the substation. The Plaintiffs, owners of property adjacent to the substation, then brought suit against PSE under theories of trespass and nuisance, claiming that a "reasonable fear" of EMF radiation from the substation caused reduction of their property values. Plaintiffs also sued the City of Kirkland claiming that Kirkland's approval of the zoning variances reduced their property value and therefore amounted to an inverse condemnation of their property.