More Questions. There are questions regarding the Illahee Creek culvert and the new Gilberton Creek culvert.
Illahee Creek Questions. What is happening with Illahee Creek? Did the County’s excavation of all the sediment in the culvert work? Were there any problems with the December storms? We heard the culvert is filling back up with sediment – is that true?
Gilberton Creek Questions. We heard there is a grant being applied for to restore Gilberton Creek? Are you going to post any pictures of the small bank washouts upstream and downstream of the new culvert? Is the Great Peninsula Conservancy trying to buy Gilberton Creek adjoining properties? We heard that the southern portion of the Gilberton Creek watershed and the culvert is within the Illahee Community boundary, but not the lower portion of the stream? Who is the point of contact for Gilberton Creek questions?
Timbers Edge Legal Document List Update. It turns out we did not list all the legal documents in our previous Update. We left off the “attachments” to the Illahee Community Club closing arguments (now Document #3) and failed to note the Timbers Edge closing arguments (now Document #4). We think the following list of documents is now correct. (NOTE: SOME OF THESE DOCUMENTS ARE TOO LARGE TO BE UPLOADED AT THIS TIME)
Document #1. Illahee Community Club Closing Brief Regarding Lack of Compliance with County Code (Sent out on 1/10/09)
Document #2. Illahee Community Club Closing Brief Regarding Lack of Compliance with the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) (Attached)
Document #3. Illahee Community Club Closing Brief Attachments (Attached)
Document #4. Timbers Edge Closing Arguments
Document #5. Timbers Edge Rebuttal to the Illahee Community Club’s Closing Briefs
Document #6. Illahee Community Club Reply to the Timbers Edge Rebuttal
State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Appeals. We don’t know much about these appeals except they seem to be subjectively decided. The issue seems to be what is a “significant” impact. The developers deny their project will have a significant impact and are good at finding engineers who agree with them. After all, it is a matter of someones interpretation of “significant.”
County Generally Sides With Developers. The county normally tries to work out the best deal they can for the environment, to a point. However, when the developer’s engineers come in with documents that say there will be no significant impact of a project they need to generally agree since these documents are signed by registered Professional Engineers. That is unless there is conflicting information.
Community Involvement Needed. That is where communities need to be vigilant because there are developers, engineers, and expert witnesses out there who will provide answers not necessarily for the benefit of the community or the environment.
Illahee Involvement Example. An example of how the Illahee community first became involved with Timbers Edge project was when large concrete detention vaults were being proposed to be installed on the steep slopes of Illahee Creek. Briefly, the developer’s geotech firm said it wasn’t a problem, so the community hired a geotech firm to do an independent study and they concluded there were problems. That situation then required a third party independent study that agreed there were problems. If the community had not gotten involved they would likely be living with the detention vaults, along with all the county taxpayers would have inherited paying for any future problems.
Another County Reason to Side With Developers. Another reason the county sides with developers is if they deny a project and the developer challenges it in court and is successful, the county ends up paying all the court costs along with damages. So with those possible financial liability concerns, county officials are likely advised to side with the developers and very rarely do they find “significant” impacts that would warrant an environmental impact statement or EIS.
Another Problem for Communities. Another problem communities have is they do not have equal status once the county has made a determination there is no significant environmental impact or that the impact can be mitigated to not be a significant impact. The county environmental officer’s decision is weighted or given extra authority over that of the community. The only possible way to prevail is for the community’s expert witnesses to be so good or compelling that Hearing Examiner is somehow swayed to rule against the county officer. It then becomes a situation of the Hearing Examiner’s ability to understand the issues and rule appropriately. In Kitsap County they have rarely, if at all, over-ruled the environmental officer’s decision.
Why The SEPA Appeal Then? That is a good question for the Illahee Community Club. We have heard they felt they had no choice. They have told us that they feel the possibility of losing Illahee Creek as a salmon stream was a significant environmental impact that the Hearing Examiner could not ignore.
SEPA Arguments. That was a long introduction from our non-legal background and possibly uninformed perspective of the SEPA issues. The particulars of the Timbers Edge SEPA appeal are in the attached document. The attachments to the SEPA appeal are in the second attached document.
Comments Appreciated. We have given you our best understanding and appreciate any alternative interpretations and comments.