Lanzce G. Douglass, Inc. v. City of Spokane Valley
Washington Court of Appeals
225 P.3d 448 (2010)
Lanzce Douglass, owner of Lanzce Douglass, Incorporated (plaintiffs) sought to construct two residential developments in the City of Spokane Valley (defendant). The city was in an area at risk of wildfires. During the approval process for the developments, Douglass submitted a traffic analysis, which concluded that traffic from the developments would not cause a delay in the emergency evacuation of residents of the city during a fire. The city had a policy goal of ensuring that all residents could evacuate the area within 30 minutes. The city issued a mitigated determination of nonsignificance for the developments, so Douglass did not have to prepare an environmental-impact statement prior to approval, which the city then granted. A neighborhood association appealed the approval. Consequently, a public hearing was held regarding the developments. The hearing examiner conducted a statistical analysis based on the traffic study submitted by Douglass. The hearing examiner noted several flaws in the traffic study and found that about 20 percent of existing traffic and none of the traffic from the proposed developments could be evacuated within 30 minutes in the event of a fire emergency. The hearing examiner concluded that the city’s determination of nonsignificance was clearly erroneous because the developments were likely to have an adverse effect on the environment and public safety and that an environmental-impact study was required by the State Environmental Policy Act. Douglass appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Sweeney, J.)
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