Adieu to Ferry County GMA

I notified Ferry County recently of my intention to give up the legal contract for GMA (Growth Management Act). I have defended Ferry County from GMA appeals for 12 years. For five of those years, I was the elected prosecutor. When I did not run for re-election in 2002, the county commissioners kept me on for a “temporary basis” that has stretched on to today. The work has been exciting, and was constantly changing. I worked with eight different county commissioners. I watched each one learn a great deal about the complex Growth Management Act, and watched their outlook on the law change as the law itself changed. When I first started representing the county, a lawyer on the coast told me that there was no such thing as a GMA expert. The law was too new, and everyone, including the Growth Management Hearings Board was still learning as they went.

I decided to give up the contract this year because I got too busy with my criminal work. I have had three homicide jury trials this year already, and have one more to go. These homicide cases obviously take a lot of time. Also, another reason I gave the work up was some of the people on the planning commission that I enjoyed working with have moved on.

My last day will be August 31st. My only hesitancy in leaving is my concern about the defense of the county from new threats that have emerged in the last year. The groups Riparian Owners of Ferry County and the Stevens County Farm Bureau have both filed recent appeals or petitions against Ferry County. The cases were soundly rejected by the GMA Board, and no appeals to court followed. But further appeals from the Riparian Owners of Ferry County and the Stevens County Farm Bureau would mean a considerable increase in defense costs on top of what is expended to defend the county from Futurewise and the Concerned Friends of Ferry County.

I may still do some GMA work for private clients from time to time. Since I have been in private practice, I have on occasion done GMA work in other counties. I represented private landowners and farmers in GMA appeals in Stevens County against a city government. Additionally, I have done some consulting work to private parties in Okanogan County. We will see what the future holds.

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Steve Graham is a criminal defense lawyer, and he splits his time between Spokane and Seattle, Washington. Visit his website by clicking:
Law Office of Steve Graham
1312 North Monroe Street, #140
Spokane, WA 99201
(509) 252-9167
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