Illahee 6/25/13 Sunset Signs, Buffer Reduction Application Response, Property Photos, Community Responses Requested by the County, Community Input Needed for Good Decisions

Sunset Signs.  We try to take pictures of any signs we see along Illahee roads, and we were especially curious about the following signs along Sunset, next to the Illahee Preserve.  We are wondering what birds are nesting on the ground.

Buffer Reduction Application Response.  We often know about land use changes but only report on them when we are sent information, like the email and post card we received on the buffer reduction request noted in the last Update.  The comments on this application are due on Thursday (6/27/13) but when we received an email copy of comments that were sent in yesterday that were especially well done and informative (such as the fact that the fill came from along Wheaton way in 1973) we decided it should be shared (with their permission) in this Update.

Written comments for Notice of Application (NOA) Number: 1300816
Assessor’s Number:  312502-2-047-2009
Project Name: Wandling Critical Area Buffer Reduction
Site Location: 3300 NE 1st Street, Bremerton
Project Planner Steve Heacock

My wife and I own the neighboring property to the West (parcel 2-064 on the applicant’s site map) and I request that this Critical Area Buffer Reduction be denied for the following reasons:

1)  This area, particularly the property on the application, is known to flood during heavy rain. Please see attached photos showing the water of the North Tributary of Illahee Creek flowing over the surface of NE 1st St and directly onto this property (the entire width of the northern property line). There is also flooding on the south boundary where it overwhelms the culvert going under NE Wise St, submerging the entire culvert opening. I also have video of these events.

2)  The stream path as depicted in the applicant’s septic design plan included in Application #1300816 is inaccurate. At approximately 100 feet south of NE 1st St., the stream takes a distinct eastward bend toward the center of the property which is not depicted in the applicant’s design plan and would not even meet the listed setbacks of the proposed buffer reduction.

3)  The property in question was once a large ravine and was filled in 1973 with fill material from the construction of the K-Mart complex on Wheaton Way in East Bremerton. At the time of the fill, the land in this area was level. Today, the filled area has sunken approximately 10 feet in comparison with the surrounding natural surface. Maintaining the required 50′ buffer is crucial to keeping the native vegetation and mature trees in place to minimize further erosion of the fill on this site causing even more silt problems in Illahee Creek, a salmon bearing stream.

4)  As the owner of the adjacent property who just recently installed a new septic system, while abiding by all regulations and buffer setbacks with no special considerations or exemptions, I have to wonder why this particular designer/applicant is being given consideration for yet ‘another’ buffer reduction involving a stream, wetlands, etc., as is on file with the county involving similar projects?

5)  Illahee Creek has suffered greatly in recent years due to increased silt and sediment caused by storm water surges. The neighbors of the Illahee Community have been going to great lengths to restore and maintain this critical area and the native vegetation and wildlife that depend on it for survival.  An approval of any buffer reductions in this critical area would be both irresponsible and a direct opposition to what the Illahee Community has been working tirelessly towards as a whole.

6)  I am also concerned about the statement on the septic design by Paul Wandling that reads, “LAWN/FILL AREA ENCROACHMENT FROM WESTERLY PROPERTY, REMOVE STREAM SILTATION/FILL AND RESTORE ORIGINAL CHANNEL.” The path of the North Tributary of the Illahee Creek is well established. Any attempt to change it will be met with great concern and opposition. Again, please note that the path of the stream as shown on the septic design is wrong.  Any changes or modifications to the current stream path will detrimentally impact our property by affecting our buffer setbacks and will be met with legal action.

Additionally, the address listed for this property (3300 NE 1st St.) also seems to be in error.  First, the properties on the South side of NE 1st St are odd-numbered (such as ours, 3343 NE 1st St).  This property is on the South side of NE 1st St.   Secondly, the property address numbers increase along NE 1st St. as it travels East.  This property is to the East of our address (again, 3343 NE 1st St), yet it has a lower address number than even the furthest property to the WEST on NE 1st St.  How can this be correct?

In summary, I would expect our county officials to respect the input of the affected property owners and the Illahee Community in rejecting this Critical Area Buffer Reduction proposal. Those of us in the immediate area have seen the adverse effects of poor and irresponsible land management in the Illahee Community and continue to work hard maintaining and restoring this unique and pristine area as an environmental model Kitsap County can continue to be proud of having within its boundaries.

We have regulations and buffers in place for our critical areas to ensure they remain protected. If these guidelines are able to be compromised and disregarded…why do we have regulations and critical area buffers at all?

If this Critical Area Buffer Reduction is allowed to proceed, let it be accepted and known that I will hold Kitsap County responsible for any damage or loss in value my property is expected to be subject to due to the “special allowances” that would allow this project to proceed. 

I am requesting a copy of the decision and any changes/updates to this proposal.

Property Photos.  Not everyone knows where this property is located so we took some photos this afternoon before it started raining.  The first photo below is on 1st Street looking east and then one of the sign that has been there for years.  The other photo looks east on Wise Street and the property is on the left at the low spot in the road.  
Community Responses Requested by the County.  While the county solicits responses from the surrounding neighbors and the community, we aren’t sure how they are used, since from our experience the county staff usually sides with the developer or the applicant.  By the time the applicant gets to this point in the process, they have been advised as to what is required to get the application approved, and in this case a Habitat Management Plan has been prepared and submitted along with the application fees, which are substantial.

Community Input Needed for Good Decisions.  What we have noted over the years is the county staff that approves submitted applications rarely knows the conditions of the area as well as those residents who have lived on the land for years.  Which is why it is important for neighbors and residents to comment on these applications.  We think this will be an especially interesting decision and another possible community fight if it is approved by the county.

Your Thoughts/Comments?  Let us know if you have thoughts or comments on this application that we can share with the community at large.

Jim Aho