Author: Derek Buse
When it comes to water rights in Whatcom County, namely an update on the Hirst Decision ruling, there is not much to report. ( Wait, what is the Hirst Decision again?) There was an impasse at the State Senate in late July on a bill that could potentially fix or reverse the Hirst Decision. Senate Republicans claim they will not pass a capital budget without legislation aimed at overturning the Hirst decision. This leaves us at square one, scratching our heads, wondering where to go from here? If you're a property owner, do you sit on that parcel and wait out a "fix" in hopes that it will be business as usual? Or do you cut bait and fire sale it now while we are still in limbo on long term legislation that could negatively effect its value till the end of time? At the end of the day, this ruling is now moving Whatcom County into the hot seat and holding it responsible for becoming the water authority. This has never been the case. The county is now responsible for determining connectivity and impairment for small scale impacts such as permit exempt wells and they do not have the resources at hand to make these decisions effectively. It is rumored that the bill is already 20 pages long, It could take years to put into act, a system that allows Whatcom County to monitor water usage at any level with any sort of accuracy. The point here is that there is probably no quick fix in sight.
What are the options?
Construction loans for a single family (primary) using rain catchment as the water source are difficult to come by. Many banks say they loan on homes with catchment systems but we are finding this is simply not true. There are few more adventurous lenders locally that plan to start in-house loan programs that may accommodate these types of loans later this year. We have sourced one financial institution who finances bare land transactions without water. This is a viable option if you plan to buy and wait to build.
Call or email us if you have questions regarding financing vacant land or how Hirst decision affects your property.