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Carpenter v. Island County

Citation: 8 ELR 20721
No. No. 44172, 577 P.2d 575/11 ERC 1553/89 Wash. 2d 881, (Wash., 04/06/1978)

Affirming the lower court, the Washington Supreme Court holds that the annexation of territory to a sewer district is not a major action significantly affecting the quality of the environment within the meaning of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), and that preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS) is thus not required in conjunction with the annexation. Approval of a sewer district annexation by the county legislative authority is predicated on an analysis of environmental considerations, and approval of sewer systems and facilities requires an extensive analysis of the environmental impacts. Past judicial interpretations of SEPA and analogous laws, however, reveal that an EIS is required only where there is to be a demonstrable change in the environment or a change in the uses to which the land might be put. In this case, there is to be no change in land use or in the environment, merely a change in sewer district boundaries. The court also rules that the Council on Environmental Policy guidelines do not support the argument that annexation of territory is a major action requiring at least a threshold determination of environmental impact.

A concurrence argues that the Council's guidelines do not exempt annexation of territory from the necessity for at least a threshold determination of environmental impacts.

Counsel for Petitioners
Jacob Cohen
1547A Midway Blvd., Oak Harbor WA 98277
(206) 675-1686

Counsel for Defendants
Ted D. Zylstra
Zylstra & Pitt
1126 W. Pioneer Way, Oak Harbor WA 98277
(206) 675-2226

David F. Thiele, Prosecuting Attorney
City Hall, Coupeville WA 98239
(206) 678-4461

WRIGHT, C.J., HAMILTON, STAFFORD and DOLLIVER, JJ., and RYAN, J. Pro Tem., concur.