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New Castle Investments v. City of LaCenter – Case Brief Summary (Washington)

In New Castle Investments v. City of LaCenter, 98 Wn. App. 224, 989 P.2d 569, 576 (Wash. App. 1999), developers challenged a city's "transportation impact fees," which, like the County's Impact Tax, were "used to pay for city facilities, such as traffic signals or a park, that may be indirectly impacted by new development." New Castle Investments, 989 P.2d at 571.

The developers charged that the TIFs were "land use control ordinances," which would bring them within the scope of a statutory scheme for vested rights in land use. Id.

The court rejected this notion. It distinguished TIFs on the ground that they were more like taxes than land use regulations, because their purpose was to raise revenue and they were codified with excise tax provisions, rather than with land use regulations. Id. at 574-75.

The court also observed that the purpose of vested rights law was to "prevent a project from being obstructed by enacting new zoning ordinances or building codes." Id. at 573.

In its view, "a TIF does not limit the use of land, nor does it resemble a zoning law. Instead, a TIF merely affects the ultimate cost of the development." Id. "Thus," the court held, "it is not the type of right that vests under the vested rights doctrine." Id.