>Timbers Edge/SEPA Update 12/10/07

>Technical Review for Timbers Edge is Wednesday (12/12/07) at 10 am in the Commissioner’s Chambers of the Administrative Building.

SEPA comments were due Friday (12/7/07). Attached is the letter the Illahee Forest Preserve sent in.

As we understand it, this is a meeting between the applicant and the county, which is open to the public to observe, but not necessarily to participate in, unless the applicant requests comments.

This will give everyone who can attend an idea of what is being planned for this development. This project supposedly has the 40′ by 60′ lots that are grandfathered or vested before the area was down zoned.

Those concerned about what this project will do to the Fir Drive area and Illahee Creek are requesting a good showing at this meeting.

Dennis Sheeran & Jim Aho

7 December 2007

Commissioner Josh Brown, Chair
Commissioner Jan Angel
Commissioner Steve Bauer
Larry Keaton, DCD Director
614 Division Street, MS-4
Port Orchard, WA 98366-4676

Subject: Land Use Decision / Timbers Edge SEPA Comments

Enclosure: (1) Illahee Forest Preserve letter dated 29 October 2006
(2) Dr. Joel Massmann letter dated 17 October 2006

Dear Commissioners & Director Keaton:

Illahee Creek is a seriously threatened salmon stream.

We are writing this letter to the BOCC and DCD in hopes that a consensus regarding Illahee Creek and the Illahee Community can be reached to avoid possible legal conflicts.

Illahee Creek is a small salmon stream that requires aquifer recharge to maintain an adequate base flow during no-rain periods. Scientific studies were conducted in 2005 and 2006 to document this fact, which was instrumental in the BOCC’s decision to down zone the area as part of the 2006 Comprehensive Plan Update. Enclosure (1) is the letter we sent requesting the change, which also documents the communities efforts to protect Illahee Creek.

This is not a new revelation as this area surrounding the stream is both a Category I and Category II Aquifer Recharge Area according to the Critical Area Ordinance (CAO) maps of the area. What makes the CAO designation unique for this particular area is the underlying aquifer supplies the base flow in Illahee Creek, which in turn supplies the water supporting anadromous fish (coho, chum, cutthroat, and steelhead) inhabiting the stream, and also supplies water to the deeper aquifers because of the hydraulic continuity between the aquifers in this area. The aquifer sensitivity is further described in Enclosure 2, with Dr. Joel Massmann responding to questions from the Illahee Community Citizens Advisory Group.

The board’s decision to rezone the area in 2006 was just the first step in the process to protect the base flow in Illahee Creek. The next steps are the crucial ones – to determine how best to get the area rainfall back into the ground and into the aquifer. The natural forested features in the area support aquifer recharge. Additionally, the existing lower density of homes in the area, coupled with the infiltration of septic effluent, help recharge the aquifers. The problems comes with higher housing densities.

Utilizing Washington State’s vesting laws, the Timbers Edge project is proposing high density housing (mostly 40’ by 60’ lots), presumably because of the expense of bringing a sewer line approximately one mile through the Illahee terrain.

We are proposing a possible solution that should be investigated at this stage of the planning process that may result in an acceptable resolution for nearly everyone involved.

The land use decision of concern to those trying to protect Illahee Creek is the blanket BOCC resolution that states sewers are required in all urban designated areas. We understand the reason for the resolution, but recommend an exemption from the urban sewer mandate for critical aquifer recharge zones, where the scientific evidence supports such a zone, due to the environmental conditions in the area. We, therefore, request an exemption from the sewer mandate for the Fir Drive Aquifer Recharge area.

Concurrently, we request maximum Low Impact Development (LID) applications for any developments to infiltrate storm water back into the ground. This is also an objective for back fitting existing homes in the area as part of a Centennial Clean Water grant with the Department of Ecology.

We recognize that critical aquifer recharge zones and stream low base flows are complex issues, and solutions are not easy. But by working together with the best available science, we may have a chance to minimize the impact to our streams and watersheds, which contributes to the health of Puget Sound, and at the same time supports urban growth.

We, therefore, request your support to save a threatened Illahee Creek.

Sincerely,

James Aho
For the Illahee Forest Preserve

cc:
Port of Illahee
Illahee Preserve Stewardship Committee
Illahee Community Citizens Advisory Group (CAG)
Illahee Community Club
City of Bremerton, Community Development
Suquamish Tribe
Kitsap Sun