>Appeal Filed. The proposed Illahee Outfall Project to put a 42 inch outfall at the base of the Illahee Community Dock has been appealed to the Shorelines Hearings Board (SHB) by the Illahee Community Club.
1980’s Appeal. This is not the first time the Illahee community has appealed a proposed project to the SHB. At least twenty years ago community members successfully opposed a fish pen project the county had approved for the area (about a third of a mile north of the Illahee Community Dock). Aquaculture (salmon rearing pens) was a new business being introduced to the state at that time and a newly arrived Illahee shoreline resident successfully convinced the county that Illahee was a prime area for commercial salmon pens. The problem that residents, and eventually UW scientists realized (who testified for the community during the SHB hearings), was the tidal flushing actions were insufficient in Illahee to carry away and disperse the wastes. There were also concerns by the nearby neighbors with many of the commercial aspects associated with the project.
Small Illahee Group Funded the 80’s Appeal. This previous situation required local citizens to take the County and the applicant to a state hearings board to see that the right thing was done. There weren’t many citizens who came forward to support that appeal and it was costly for those who stepped forward. The Illahee Community Club wasn’t active at the time so nearby residents organized the “Illahee Community Betterment Committee” to help with the fight. Their initial goal was to get 12 families to each contribute $500 for the appeal and they ended up with just enough money. They retained John Merkel, a respected and powerful Seattle attorney, which was one of the keys to their success, along with several UW professors. As we move forward with the present appeal it is good to remember this earlier SHB appeal and thank those who are still around for their efforts.
NIMBYISM? Was this previous appeal NIMBYISM (Not In My Back Yard)? It could appear so, but the concern was backed up by the scientists who agreed that the Illahee location was not appropriate. The Illahee group did not fight against fish pens when they were later located in Kitsap County where there was sufficient tidal movement.
SHB Hearing This Week. Two residents attended a SHB hearing on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week regarding the Harper Road Widening and Outfall Project. Tuesday the Board met at Long Lake and then met at the SHB headquarters in Lacy on Wednesday. The Illahee residents feel it is a benefit to get out of Kitsap County and before a board that is trained to handle these kind of issues. They also noted the importance of expert witnesses, and that the Harper group had some very good ones.
Lessons From Past Hearings. One of the lessons learned from talking with those involved with recent hearings is that the expert witnesses can cost as much or more than the lawyer. The fact is that these appeals cost significant dollars and emotional energy and a group or individual to take a leadership role in coordinating the efforts. The Illahee Community is fortunate to have an active Illahee Community Club board to take on these issues, not to mention the Port of Illahee who has filed papers to prohibit the running of the proposed outfall through the community dock’s foundational structure.
Status of Appeal Funds. We understand approximately $3000 came in from the first email appeal that asked for 60 individuals to contribute $150. Many wanted more information regarding the appeal and asked if it was a wise use of their money, especially with the Timbers Edge project expected to be approved by the County soon. (Timbers Edge was a concern a few years ago and the community funded studies that showed the project would cause problems along the slopes, would affect the underlying aquifers, and could decrease the flow in Illahee Creek by 20% thereby jeopardizing salmon rearing. It appears at this point that the County has ignored or discounted those studies and is moving ahead to approve the project. This will likely be another fight with our County officials who are supposed to be watching out for our streams, aquifers, and salmon.)
Additional Financial Support is Needed! The Illahee Community Club needs additional significant support for appeals like the Illahee Outfall Project, though gifts of any amount will help. The goal is to spread out the costs among community members so no one takes too big a hit on their pocketbook. These fights are not what many of us want to be involved with, but since our County officials are not supporting us, we are left with no choice.
Periodic Updates. We have been asked to provide periodic updates, such as this one, on the status of Community Club’s legal fund, and will try to do so every week or so. Let us know what questions you have and we will try to get answers.