Snohomish County Council wrestles with landslide area building moratorium



EVERETT, Wash. - The Snohomish County Council decided to push more discussion, and a possible vote, on an emergency landslide area building moratorium to next Monday.

 The motion to delay it to gather more facts was agreed on unanimously at the council’s Wednesday meeting.

 The emergency moratorium would put a 6-month ban on new home construction in a half-mile zone around areas that are considered landslide risks.

 The definition for at-risk is defined in the moratorium proposal, as areas so marked in the 2010 Snohomish County hazard mitigation maps.

 It would not affect homes that have already submitted their plans, or homes that have been approved by the county.

 As emergency legislation, the Snohomish County Council would have to have four out of five votes in the affirmative and they would also have to hold a public hearing.

 "I think this slide just makes us have to ask the question: 'Are our regulations really adequate? Really doing enough?'" asked Council Chair Dave Somers, who also submitted the emergency proposal.

 Somers said the county has faced criticism by people after the deadly Oso landslide, with a death toll that currently stands at 41, about trying to define their role in home construction and mitigating risk.

 “There's going to be people who are very unhappy that they can't get a building permit. We've got 6 months, we've got to get this conversation done,” Somers said.

 It’s currently estimated that about 2 percent of Snohomish County homes would fall under the at-risk areas as defined by the emergency legislation.

 The council also said they have to hold a public hearing within the next 90 days.  The hearing is slated for June 11.

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