(By Brandon Hansen/Chewelah Independent)
Hirst Decision played into policy change…
Because of uncertainty about water rights, Washington Federal sent out an internal memo saying the company will not be lending on properties in the state of Washington that have had wells drilled after Oct. 6 2016, reports the Columbia Basin Herald. The reason for the change in policy is last fall’s Hirst decision by the state Supreme Court to require counties to approve all well permits, including exempt wells.
The memo was provided to the Columbia Basin Herald by Republican state Senator Judy Warnick of Moses Lake.
This policy applies to Washington Federal dealing with wholesale loans – which are loans that go through brokers – and no consumer real estate loans which are made directly by Washington Federal and its customers. In order to secure a loan, a borrower would still need to get a certificate from the county saying that they have adequate water rights.
The fallout from the Hirst decision has led to both chambers of the state legislature unable to pass a $4 billion capital budget because they can’t decide on a fix for the Hirst decision.
Local state representative Jacquelin Maycumber said that a lender limiting loans on real estate is one of the many results of the Hirst ruling.
“As these properties are devalued, we are going to begin to see a tax shift on our property taxes,” Maycumber said. “As home and business owners we are going to have to pay for the lost values of these properties.”
Maycumber said that the McCleary decision regarding funding of education will also be affected.
“The state’s education mandate is balanced on these property values for basic education,” Maycumber said. “Hirst will begin a ball rolling in rural Washington that will affect everyone. Restricting the exempt wells that come from the same aquifers that municipal water is drawn from unregulated, has nothing to do with the environment or water. It is solely based on control.”
Local state senator Shelly Short said that she was not surprised by Washington Federal’s response given that building permit moratoriums have been issued by some local counties in response to Hirst.
“Frankly, why would any band lend money for home development without the certainty of water?” Short said. “This is already having a chilling effect on development in rural Washington.”
Short said the timing for this “court-created uncertainty” couldn’t have come at a worse time for property owners and families trying to become home-owners in communities around the state that lack available housing while recovering from the recession of 2008.
“This is one more reason that the Hirst decision cannot be allowed to stand,” said Short.