Judge rules against Ferry County in off-highway vehicle dispute
By Brenda Starkey
Ferry County will not be allowed to implement either of its two off-highway vehicle ordinances, according to a decision last week by Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michael P. Price.
Both ordinances violate state law because at least some of the roads and road segments designated for off-road vehicle use in those ordinances fail to create direct connections between ORV recreation areas and cities of fewer than 3,000 people, according to a decision granting a permanent injunction against the measures.
The decision was issued Nov. 20 and filed in Ferry County Superior Court Nov. 21.
Ferry County has agreed to conduct an environmental impact statement before enacting a new ordinance, Price’s decision continued.
An August letter to the judge from the county’s attorney, Steve Graham, said the county was considering a possible new ordinance and an EIS.
County commissioner Joe Bond said Nov. 25 that the county had offered to rescind the ordinances and had volunteered to do the EIS because such a statement will stand up in court in the future.
The first ordinance was enacted in December 2007 and authorized OHV use on 54 county roads. The second was passed in June 2008 to fix some problems with the first ordinance.
It was passed the same day as a court hearing on the Quiet Communities Coalition’s lawsuit challenging the first ordinance.
“Quiet Communities Coalition is pleased that this court order represents a complete victory on both its claims,” according to a QCC announcement. “QCC will continue to closely monitor Ferry County’s efforts to enact any new OHV ordinance.”
The judge did not rule on a QCC request to order the county to pay QCC legal fees, which added up to $42,500 as of June 18, according to court documents.
Price did say the court retains jurisdiction over continuing disputes that may arise between the parties regarding the county’s efforts, if any, to enact and implement ordinances permitting ORV use in Ferry County.
“As far as I’m concerned we’re back to doing our EIS and doing another ordinance,” Bond said.
“We haven’t washed our hands of this,” he said, adding that a new ordinance might not be passed until sometime next year.
Link to the article: http://www.omakchronicle.com/nws/n081126b.shtml