What does a gopher have to do with your property?
Meet the Mazama Pocket Gopher
This little rodent lives in Washington, Oregon and California and prefers to habitate on prairie land. After the US Department of Fish and Wildlife spent the last century trying to eradicate this rodent (unsuccessfully), due to its harm on reforestation efforts, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has listed this furry creature as a "threatened species". And while Pierce County is largely ignoring the gopher issue, Thurston County intends to go to extremes in protecting the gopher and its habitat. This habitat may be on your property, and once a portion of the land you want to develop has been identified as gopher habitat, at the very least you'll have to pay for a gopher habitat plan study, which will cost upwards of $2,000. At the worst, the protection measure will preclude you from subdividing your land, building a house, adding a garage, or putting in a driveway. This type of action not only severely impacts citizens' private property rights, but also impacts property values. Even if your property is not directly affected, diminished property values of your neighbors will also impact your values.
Another thought to consider is the fact that affected property owners are currently fully taxed on all their property, even if large parts have been deemed critical areas by the county and can't be developed. This is a class action law suit just waiting to happen. If the delineated critical areas on private property will in the future be excluded from tax assessment calculations, the rest of the community will have to carry the burden of redistributed tax loads.
So if you live in Thurston County, it's worthwhile to get educated on this topic. Here is a link to information about the Mazama Pocket Gopher: http://www.science.smith.edu/msi/pdf/641_Thomomys_mazama.pdf
This is a recent article about the issue as it affects the public in The Olympian: http://www.theolympian.com/2011/03/07/1569091/property-owners-get-ready-to-fight.html
If you would like to have you opinion heard and be on record, or would just like to sit in on a County Commissioners Meeting to learn more about the issue, please consider attending the next public hearing on Thursday.
Board of County Commissioners Public Hearing
Date: July 7, 2011
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Building 2, Court Room 129 of Superior Court, 2000 Lakeridge Drive S.W. in Olympia (Thurston County Courthouse complex)
If you can't make it to the meeting, but would like to contact the County, here is the staff contact:
Jeremy Davis, Senior Planner, 754-3355 ext. 7010 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
More information about Planning Department activities is available at www.thurstonplanning.org.
If you would like to know more about efforts to stop Thurston County from going to extremes on their critical areas ordinance, visit the STOP Thurston County site: http://www.myfreedomfoundation.com/index.php/stop_thurston_county/view/about_stop_thurston_county
Sandy Nelson Olympia Realtor®
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