Facts: Mike and Shima Garrison, who own a parcel of land adjacent to petitioner Louise Lauer’s property, filed a building permit application for a single family residential dwelling with respondent Pierce County, which approved the application in 2004. However, the county subsequently issued a cease and desist order after discovering that the dwelling was being illegally constructed within 35 feet of a watercourse. The Garrisons appealed the cease and desist order but later withdrew their appeal when they were informed that they could request a variance which would be processed under the less stringent regulations that were in place in 2004. Thus, when the Garrisons applied for a variance, the county approved the variance on grounds that their rights vested in 2004 and that the regulations in place at the time, rather than the amended regulations, govern. Lauer then filed a Land Use Petition Act (Washington Revised Code §36.70C) petition in the Superior Court for Pierce County that appealed the county’s decision. The superior court reversed the county’s decision, ruling that the 2004 regulations do not govern insofar as the Garrisons’ building permit application was not complete in 2004 and their rights therefore did not vest. However, upon appeal, the Washington Court of Appeals reversed and reinstated the county’s decision. Lauer appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Washington.
Question(s): Did the Garrisons’ rights vest when they filed their building permit application in 2004?
Conclusion: Justice Owens’ opinion for a unanimous Court reversed the Washington Court of Appeals, concluding that the Garrisons’ rights did not vest when they filed their building permit application in 2004. In particular, the Court held that as the Garrisons’ building permit application made knowing misrepresentations, it was invalid at the time it was filed and therefore did not give rise to any vested rights.
Petitioner: Louise Lauer
(Counsel: Margaret Yvonne Archer)
Respondent: Pierce County
(Counsel: Gregory Austin Jacoby, Jennifer Anne Irvine Forbes, and Jill Guernsey)
- Appellant's Brief
- Joint Statement Re Assignments of Error and Issues
- Petition for Review
- Respondents Brief
- Supplemental Appellants Brief Re Mellish
- Supplemental Brief of Petitioners
- Supplemental Brief of Pierce County Re Mellish
- Supplemental Brief of Respondents
- Supplemental Respondent's Brief Re Mellish
Argument: Thursday, September 15th, 2011
[Source: TVW, http://tvw.org]
Audio: Court of Appeals Division II
Audio: Washington Supreme Court
Decided: Thursday, December 15th, 2011
Prevailing Party: Louise Lauer (Petitioner)
Court: Madsen2 Court (2011-)
Note: We post only slip opinion(s) as published at the time of the decision. Please consult Washington Reports printed volumes for the opinion(s) in their final form. Each opinion should appear next to the Justice who authored it.