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PDFWAC 197-11-680


(1) Introduction. Appeals provisions in SEPA are found in RCW 43.21C.060, 43.21C.075 and 43.21C.080. These rules attempt to construe and interpret the statutory provisions. In the event a court determines that these rules are inconsistent with statutory provisions, or with the framework and policy of SEPA, the statute will control. Persons considering either administrative or judicial appeal of any decision which involves SEPA at all are advised to read the statutory sections cited above.
(2) Appeal to local legislative body. RCW 43.21C.060 allows an appeal to a local legislative body of any decision by a local nonelected official conditioning or denying a proposal under authority of SEPA. Agencies may establish procedures for such an appeal, or may eliminate such appeals altogether, by rule, ordinance or resolution. Such appeals are subject to the restrictions in RCW 36.70B.050 and 36.70B.060 that local governments provide no more than one open record hearing and one closed record appeal for permit decisions.
(3) Agency administrative appeal procedures.
(a) Agencies may provide for an administrative appeal of determinations relating to SEPA in their agency SEPA procedures. If so, the procedures must comply with the following:
(i) The agency must specify by rule, ordinance, or resolution that the appeals procedure is available.
(ii) Appeal of the intermediate steps under SEPA (e.g., lead agency determination, scoping, draft EIS adequacy) shall not be allowed.
(iii) Appeals on SEPA procedures shall be limited to review of a final threshold determination and final EIS. These appeals may occur prior to an agency's final decision on a proposed action.
(iv) An agency shall provide for only one administrative appeal of a threshold determination or of the adequacy of an EIS; successive administrative appeals on these issues within the same agency are not allowed. This limitation does not apply to administrative appeals before another agency.
(v) Except as provided in (a)(vi) of this subsection, the appeal shall consolidate any allowed appeals of procedural and substantive determinations under SEPA with a hearing or appeal on the underlying governmental action in a single simultaneous hearing before one hearing officer or body. The hearing or appeal shall be one at which the hearing officer or body will consider either the agency's decision or a recommendation on the proposed underlying governmental action. For example, an appeal of the adequacy of an EIS must be consolidated with a hearing or appeal on the agency's decision or recommendation on the proposed action, if both proceedings are allowed in agency procedures. If an agency does not provide for a hearing or appeal on the underlying governmental action (either a hearing on the agency's recommendation or an agency appeal hearing after the decision is made), the agency may not hold a SEPA administrative appeal, except as allowed under (a)(vi) of this subsection.
(vi) The following appeals of SEPA procedural or substantive determinations need not be consolidated with a hearing or appeal on the underlying governmental action:
(A) An appeal of a determination of significance;
(B) An appeal of a procedural determination made by an agency when the agency is a project proponent, or is funding a project, and chooses to conduct its review under SEPA, including any appeals of its procedural determinations, prior to submitting an application for a project permit. Subsequent appeals of substantive determinations by an agency with jurisdiction over the proposed project shall be allowed under the SEPA appeal procedures of the agency with jurisdiction;
(C) An appeal of a procedural determination made by an agency on a nonproject action; and
(D) An appeal to the local legislative authority under RCW 43.21C.060 or other applicable state statutes.
(vii) If a county/city to which RCW 36.70B.110 applies provides for an administrative appeal, any such appeal of a procedural or substantive determination under SEPA issued at the same time as the decision on a project action shall be filed within fourteen days after a notice of decision under RCW 36.70B.130 or after other notice that the decision has been made and is appealable. In order to allow public comment on a DNS prior to requiring an administrative appeal to be filed, this appeal period shall be extended for an additional seven days if the appeal is of a DNS for which public comment is required under this chapter or under county/city rules adopted under SEPA. For threshold determinations issued prior to a decision on a project action, any administrative appeal allowed by a county/city shall be filed within fourteen days after notice that the determination has been made and is appealable. Nothing in this subsection alters the requirements of (a)(v) and (vi) of this subsection.
(viii) Agencies shall provide that procedural determinations made by the responsible official shall be entitled to substantial weight.
(b) Agencies providing for administrative appeals shall provide for a record as required by RCW 43.21C.075 (3)(c).
(c) If an agency provides an administrative appeal procedure, that procedure must be used before anyone may initiate judicial review of any SEPA issue that could have been reviewed under the agency procedures.
(4) Judicial appeals.
(a) SEPA authorizes judicial appeals of both procedural and substantive compliance with SEPA.
(b) When SEPA applies to a decision, any judicial appeal of that decision potentially involves both those issues pertaining to SEPA (SEPA issues) and those which do not (non-SEPA issues). RCW 43.21C.075 establishes time limits for raising SEPA issues, but says that existing statutes of limitations control the appeal of non-SEPA issues. The statute contemplates a single lawsuit.
(c) If there is a time limit established by statute or ordinance for appealing the underlying governmental action, then appeals (or portions thereof) raising SEPA issues must be filed within such time period.
(d) The notice of action procedures of RCW 43.21C.080 may still be used. If this procedure is used, then the time limits for judicial appeal specified in RCW 43.21C.080 shall apply, unless there is a time limit established by statute or ordinance for appealing the underlying governmental action. If so, the time limit for appeal of SEPA issues shall be the time limit in the statute or ordinance for the underlying governmental action. If the proposal requires more than one governmental decision that will be supported by the same SEPA documents, then RCW 43.21C.080 still only allows one judicial appeal of procedural compliance with SEPA, which must be commenced within the applicable time to appeal the first governmental decision.
(e) If the time limit established by statute or ordinance for appealing the underlying governmental action is less than fifteen days, then the notice of action in RCW 43.21C.080(1) may be given by publishing once within that shorter time period, in a newspaper of general circulation in the area where the property that is the subject of the action is located, and meeting the other requirements of RCW 43.21C.080.
(f) If there is no time limit established by statute or ordinance for appeal, and the notice of action provisions are not used, then SEPA provides no time limit for judicial appeals. Appeal times may still be limited, however, by general statutes of limitation or the common law.
(g) For the purposes of this subsection, "a time limit established by statute or ordinance" does not include time limits established by the general statutes of limitation in chapter 4.16 RCW.
(5) Official notice of the date and place for commencing a judicial appeal.
(a) Official notice of the date and place for commencing an appeal must be given if there is a time limit established by statute or ordinance for commencing an appeal of the underlying governmental action. The notice shall include:
(i) The time limit for commencing appeal of the underlying governmental action and SEPA issues, and the statute or ordinance establishing the time limit; and
(ii) Where an appeal may be filed.
(b) Notice is given by:
(i) Delivery of written notice to the applicant, all parties to any administrative appeal, and all persons who have requested notice of decisions with respect to the particular proposal in question; and
(ii) Following the agency's normal methods of notice for the type of governmental action taken.
(c) Written notice containing the information required by subsection (5)(a) of this section may be appended to the permit, decision documents, or SEPA compliance documents or may be printed separately.
(d) Official notices required by this subparagraph shall not be given prior to final agency action.
[Statutory Authority: Chapter 43.21C RCW and 1997 c 429. WSR 98-06-092 (Order 97-43), § 197-11-680, filed 3/4/98, effective 3/8/98. Statutory Authority: 1995 c 347 (ESHB 1724) and RCW 43.21C.110. WSR 97-21-030 (Order 95-16), § 197-11-680, filed 10/10/97, effective 11/10/97. Statutory Authority: RCW 43.21C.110. WSR 95-07-023 (Order 94-22), § 197-11-680, filed 3/6/95, effective 4/6/95; WSR 84-05-020 (Order DE 83-39), § 197-11-680, filed 2/10/84, effective 4/4/84.]
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