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Ward v. Board of County Commissioners

May 5, 1997

ERNEST WARD AND PATTI WARD, APPELLANTS,
v.
BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, SKAGIT COUNTY, RESPONDENT.



Appeal from Superior Court of Skagit County. Docket No: 95-2-01214-3. Date filed: 01/17/96. Judge signing: Hon. Michael E. Rickert.

Authored by Ann L. Ellington. Concurring: Susan R. Agid, Mary K. Becker.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ellington

ELLINGTON, J. -- Property owners Ernest and Patti Ward ("the Wards") sought a variance and special use permit to operate a business from their residence. The Superior Court dismissed their land use petition for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. We reject the Wards' contention that applicants and owners of land need not exhaust their administrative remedies prior to filing a land use petition under the Land Use Petition Act (LUPA), RCW 36.70C.005 et seq., and affirm the trial court's decision.

FACTS

On April 20, 1995, the Wards filed applications for a variance and a special use permit with the Skagit County Department of Planning and Community Development. The Wards sought the special use permit to allow the operation of an electrical service, construction, and design business from their residence as a home occupation, and they sought the variance to permit up to 25 employees at that location. *fn1 After a public hearing, the Skagit County Hearing Examiner issued a decision dated August 7, 1995 denying the Wards' applications. The decision states that it "shall become final fourteen (14) days from the date of this decision unless appealed in accordance with Section 14.04.240(16) of the Skagit County Code." That section of the county code provides that any person aggrieved by a decision of the hearing examiner must submit a written appeal to the Board of County Commissioners ("the Board") "within fourteen (14) days of the date of the Examiner's written decision, or decision after reconsideration, requesting a review of the Examiner's decision." The section goes on to enumerate the items which must be included in the request for appeal.

The Wards filed their appeal of the hearing examiner's decision on August 22, 15 days after the date of the decision. By letter dated September 6, 1995, the Board notified the Wards' counsel that the appeal was not timely and was "invalid."

On September 20, 1995, the Wards filed a land use petition under LUPA. The trial court entered an order dismissing the Wards' petition for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, and denied their subsequent motion for reconsideration. The Wards appeal.

Discussion

Exhaustion of Remedies Under LUPA

The Wards contend that LUPA does not require a property owner to exhaust his or her administrative remedies prior to filing a petition, pointing to the provision in LUPA governing standing to bring a land use petition. That provision states as follows:

Standing to bring a land use petition under this chapter is limited to the following persons:

(1) The applicant and the owner of property to which the land use decision is directed;

(2) Another person aggrieved or adversely affected by the land use decision, or who would be aggrieved or adversely affected by a reversal or modification of the land use decision.

A person is aggrieved or adversely affected within the meaning of this section only when all of the ...


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