Failed builders collect county cash

Do other counties reward failing developers as richly as Snohomish? Should developers hold county governments/taxpayers hostage, through lawsuits, every time they do not get their way? As I learn more about the Hooven Bog case and others, I can see that it is much more lucrative for a developer to propose a shoddy and illegal project, get it denied for good reason by the hearing examiner and then sue for damages. Rather than defend its lawful decisions, standard procedure is for the county to settle for a portion of the sky that a developer claims.

In the Hooven Bog case, after a citizen, state, county and other wetland experts proved that the developer had illegally destroyed a rare and valuable ecosystem, and the hearing examiner put a stop to further carnage, he found a way to ignore them. He sued the planning department (PDS) for giving him erroneous permits! Rather than making him prove himself in court, PDS settled as always, by erroneously permitting his expired project of illegal carnage.

Or how about the Highbridge Estates developers who proposed a plat of 34 illegal wells? After battling three hearing examiners for a permit finally, they sued the county for damages for its condition to find a legal water source. The county would have won, but settled for $350,000, but wait. If the developers cannot obtain easements for a legal water system within 18 months, they win another $50,000. Ka-ching!

Laura Hartman

Snohomish