August 31, 2016

Mere Docketing Alone Does Not Constitute Consideration by the Governing Body


When the Growth Management Hearings Board (“GMHB”) rejected a challenge brought against City of West Richland, the challenger, Citizens for Smart Growth, appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed in an unpublished opinion, holding that in the context of comprehensive plan amendments and revisions, a jurisdiction does not “consider” an application by merely placing it on a docket. Coyne v. GMHB; City of West Richland, No. 33653-1-III (August 30, 2016).

The statute at issue, RCW 36.70A.130(2), requires that each county and city establish and broadly disseminate to the public a public participation program consistent with RCW 36.70A.035 and 36.70A.140 that identifies procedures and schedules whereby updates, proposed amendments, or revisions of the comprehensive plan are considered by the governing body of the county or city no more frequently than once every year… RCW 36.70A.130(2) (emphasis added).

The Court analyzed what the legislature meant by the language “considered by the governing body.” The term “consider” is not defined in the statute, so the Court turned to the dictionary definition: “to give thought to with a view of … adopting…” The Court concluded that the statute means that a governing body may not consider adopting changes to the comprehensive plan more than once a year.

Therefore, the mere listing of an item or property on a docket does not constitute “consideration” as that term is used under RCW 36.70A.130(2). “Consideration” only occurs where the matter is on the agenda of the governing body with the potential for the actual action of adopting changes to the comprehensive plan. Prior to the meeting for actual adoption action, the docket associated with potential amendments or revisions to the comprehensive plan may be modified.

For more information on this topic, please contact or call (888) 598-7070.


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