Hi guys! I’ve been a little MIA lately. #life.
I forgot I had drafted this post about our property a few months back:
Some of you who follow me know that my husband and I bought 5 acres in September and plan to build a home on it this summer. We absolutely fell in love with the land and can envision raising our daughter there. We were lucky to find a piece with a well, septic and multiple build sites. We even already have house plans and a builder ready to build June 2017! Read more here.
In October, just weeks after we closed on the sale of our property the Washington State Supreme Court issued a ruling in the case of Whatcom County v. Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board. The case challenged the validity of Whatcom County’s Comprehensive Plan and Development Regulations relating to the protection of water quality and quantity under the Growth Management Act (36.70A RCW). The Supreme Court ruled:
• It is the County’s responsibility under the Growth Management Act to determine legal availability of water for purposes of issuing land use decisions, not the Department of Ecology.
• Development permit applications that are proposing to use a private well water supply (in a basin that is closed or partially closed to surface water withdrawals by the Department of Ecology) must demonstrate that groundwater withdrawal will not impair a senior water right, including instream flows established in Chapter 173-501 WAC (the Nooksack Basin Instream Flow Rule).
In response to this ruling Whatcom County Council adopted Emergency Ordinance 2016-048 on October 25, 2016. This ordinance placed an emergency moratorium prohibiting the filing, acceptance, and processing of new applications for project permits for uses that rely on permit-exempt groundwater withdrawals for water supply on property located within a closed or partially closed basin.
How does this impact Chris and I? It means that even though we have a working well, we can’t use it. If we don’t have water access, we can’t get a building permit. Therefor we can not build on our land. The land we just spent A LOT of money on. The county gave us an option of installing a rainwater catchment system for water so that has always been our back up plan. It would be a pain and not ideal when we have a perfectly good well, but at least we’d be able to get a building permit. We spoke with our bank who told us they would not lend to us if we plan to use a rainwater catchment system! In fact, no banks will loan on it. So now, here we are sitting on a beautiful piece of land high above a lovely lake. Chris and I joke that at least we’ll be able to camp there. Expensive camping if you ask me!
There are two bills going through Washington State legislature right now to try to work it out. It’s complicated and hard for my overworked mama brain to comprehend, but you can watch the hearing here and it will all be explained! If you fast forward to 1:29:30 you can see my mother in law testify! We are lucky that she is very involved and savvy with all this business. In fact she made a Facebook page “Whatcom Exempt Well Property Owners”, to keep everyone up to date. Check it out!
I’m trying to stay positive, that something will get worked out soon. We REALLY wanted to be in our new house by next Christmas. Fingers crossed. At least it’s giving me lot of time to peruse Pinterest and plan each room! It’s sort of an overwhelming task. When you build a house you pick out EVERYTHING. Paint colors to flooring, outlet covers to counter tops, every single detail is decided by us.
So now, 2 months later a lot has changed. It’s my understanding that our major hiccup is the fact that yes, we have a shared well on our property, but that shared well has been labeled as a single home well. The paperwork was never recorded to label it a multiple home well. Our neighbors are already using it, therefore we can’t. About 3 weeks ago a little bird gave us a very important piece of information. He said that the Whatcom Health Department is considering re-evaluating the water availability for exempt shared wells (ours). Chris and I were floored! We raced down to the health department and picked up the application/ supplies to gather water samples. We’ve been anxiously awaiting news from the health department, calling frequently until last Friday… we received the report… Our well has been determined to have enough water FOR TWO HOMES! God bless their purple pumpin’ hearts! Chris and I are ecstatic! We now are able to apply for our Natural Resources permit and then our building permit!! I’m still a little nervous as we can still be denied during the permitting process. We meet with our land use consultant later this week to get the ball rolling. Fingers crossed!