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The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

May 5, 2014 at 12:27 PM

Snohomish County backs off ban on building in landslide zones

The Snohomish County Council is backing away from a moratorium on new home construction in landslide-prone areas.

Council Chair Dave Somers had floated the emergency ban within a half mile of hills known to be landslide hazards, as a reaction to the deadly March 22 Oso mudslide.

But at a meeting this morning, Somers withdrew that proposal, saying it was “overly broad.” A county analysis showed the restriction would effectively have blocked new development in most of the county.

Instead, the council will examine temporary new rules that could widen setbacks from hill edges and require developers to get additional geotechnical studies before building in potentially hazardous zones. Somers said the county also may look at formal warnings to people who buy houses in areas at risk of slides — similar to written covenants used by the city of Seattle.

The council decided to go slow even with those less restrictive measures, putting off a decision for two weeks. Snohomish County Executive John Lovick’s office asked for the delay to analyze the new proposal.

“We need to make sure we do it deliberatively,” said Councilmember Ken Klein.

Comments | More in Politics Northwest | Topics: Oso mudslide, Snohomish County Council


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