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Friday, January 29, 2016

Cranking Up the SMP PR Machine

It's wonderful that we have an independent, critical thinking press. We have Orcas Issues. We have the Journal too. And we have the Friends.








Where is the Friends video of this armoring project on Blakely?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Biggest Stories Behind the Shortest Agenda Items

There is a brief agenda item for the upcoming Tuesday Council Meeting. It says:
COUNCIL & COUNTY MANAGER UPDATES: Appointment of Dale Roundy, Pete Moe and Richard Grout to the Planning Commission.
It would appear from the wording of the agenda that our Council has already decided who the appointments should be, but that would have required the Council to have taken action already, outside of a public meeting. That wouldn't do that, would they? But that's not the most interesting aspect of these appointments. Read on.

Let's look at each of these appointments. But first, let's explain the purported process being used by the current Council regarding appointments. Appointments for the Planning Commission (like most advisory committees) have a certain geographic assignment within the County. For instance, Dick Grout would be filling a position from San Juan. Pete Moe would be filling a position from Orcas. Dale Roundy would be filling a position from Lopez.

Furthermore, according to the out-of-date protocol being used by the current Council, the Councilman representing each vacancy brings forward a nominee for a vote before the entire Council. Therefore, Richard (Dick) Grout is Bob Jarman's nominee from San Juan Island (Jarman's residency district). Pete Moe is Rick Hughes' nominee from Orcas Island (Hughes' residency district). Dale Roundy is Jamie Stephens' nominee from Lopez Island (Stephens' residency district).

Let's look at the appointees from the bottom up and examine what they have to offer to the public good.

Dick Grout - he was the Planning Director for San Juan County who urged the BOCC to fully plan under the GMA, way back in 1990. After leaving his county position, Grout was employed by the Department of Ecology for a couple of decades and headed up their Bellingham Office. Since his days as San Juan County Planning Director, Grout has been very vocal and involved in shoreline issues, even up to the current day where he has been a reliable opponent of the Honeywells. Grout also has been a candidate to be our County Manager in the past. TH readers may also remember that Grout has surfaced in previous TH articles, particularly as he was associated with an email about the Council campaign four years ago, talking about Lisa Byers and Laura Jo Severson.
Dick Grout, Jim Slocumb and myself are all willing to walk with Lisa for doorbelling. Jim can put together maps and information lists and can map out routes to walk. I truly believe it will be the difference in winning the election. I’ll point to Laura Jo Severson as my proof. Ron Zee, Jim Slocumb and me took a short grandmotherly type, new to the island, that couldn’t string together a paragraph and got her to within 99 votes of Rich Peterson simply by doorbelling. Think what an articulate woman from Orcas could do.
Why would Bob Jarman put Dick Grout forward as his choice for the Planning Commission? Seems like strange political bedfellows. Reports are, however, that both Jarman and Mike Thomas are still in trouble with Ecology over the Portland Fair wetland situation. Reports are that the Attorney General (AG) is investigating Jarman and Thomas quite seriously, and Jarman/Thomas can't seem to shake the AG. Reports are that Jarman has been going around town asking specific people for their help in getting Ecology to back off. Was Dick Grout one of them?

Dick Grout chimed in about the "civil investigation demand" related to the purported Medicaid fraud on San Juan Island. Grout revealed his extensive experience with the AG as well as his usual "guilty until proven innocent" attitude in a letter to the Journal this past November. Maybe Grout's AG experience could come in handy in helping Jarman fight the AG too? ... if he were properly incentivized, that is. As Grout says in his Journal letter:
I worked for the state of Washington for several years before I retired. My job included regular interaction with the attorney general’s office. I’ve worked with a number of assistant attorney generals to develop similar interrogatories and “requests for production” of documents. I know from that experience that you don’t get served with one of these demands unless the attorney general’s office has good reason to believe there’s a fire beneath the smoke.
Whatever the reason for putting Grout's name forward, it must be pretty compelling for Jarman to do it. It's out of character.

[Note: in the latest version of the January 26th agenda, Grout's name has been removed].

Pete Moe - **** edited because of extreme hypocrisy ****

Dale Roundy - what if you were in charge of the water supply for a village (e.g., Jamie Stephens) and there was groundwater contamination near one of your water supply wells ... and you didn't tell anyone? Well, let's clarify, certain people knew about it. The local Planning Commissioner (Barbara Thomas) was copied on emails. The local Land Trust knew (Sandy Bishop and Rhea Miller). Even some local self-styled "environmentalists" who frequently concern themselves with water issues (Madrona Murphy) knew. So did a former Land Bank Commissioner (Nancy Greene). The soil and groundwater contamination was known to be within a short distance of one of your lesser-used water supply wells, but overall the full extent of soil and groundwater contamination was still unknown. As far as anyone knew, the contamination had been in place FOR YEARS. The last laboratory result of groundwater contamination showed that there were concentrations of benzene 10,000 times higher than the drinking water standard, but you never bothered to test for that particular contaminant at the well head of the water supply well ... so you really have no idea if the benzene and other contaminants ever got into the water supply.

So certain people knew, but it's not like you sent out a notice to your water users, or breathed a word about it to the papers.

In this case, what do all the "people-in-the-know" have in common? Well, aside from being friends and keeping one another's secrets, they all have a stake in the property values of Lopez Village, where the contamination is located. For instance, they own property in the village ... or they make their living related to development/design of village buildings ... or their relatives work in construction projects in the village ... or they are just about to finance or get bank loans for projects related to their village properties. Even if your property is not directly affected, try explaining that to a bank! It would be quite a mess if something like soil or groundwater contamination were to start busting up property sales in the village.

But that's exactly what happened. Meet Dale Roundy. Dale Roundy owns a residence across the street from the Lopez Community Land Trust (the LCLT). The LCLT is run by Sandy Bishop and Rhea Miller, and Dale Roundy's wife is on their board. Dale Roundy wanted to buy a property in the heart of Lopez Village, and Roundy had an environmental review conducted first. The review turned up the fact that there was contamination in a nearby property, also in the heart of the village, that had never been cleaned up or even fully delineated. As a result, Roundy backed out. The sale collapsed. Other potential buyers behind Roundy backed out too. A minor stir was created as information leaked out to just a few people ... but they managed to keep a lid on it, and the whole thing died down.

Now Roundy is slated to be on the Planning Commission ...

Email from Jamie Stephens to the County Health Department Manager, Mark Tompkins

Monday, November 30, 2015

Shoreline Master Plan Update

This post comes to us by way of Merri Ann Simonson of Caldwell Banker in Friday Harbor.

As you may be aware, the Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) went into effect in March 2014. The Shoreline Master Program (SMP) has been in the update process for the last few years and is currently out for public comment until December 8, 2015. Then it will be sent on to the Department of Ecology for their comments and then back to our County for final revisions.

The Council is holding continued public hearings on December 2, 3 and 4th this week in Friday Harbor. They'll take comments on Lopez December 1st and on Orcas on December 8th.

It is expected that the SMP may be in effect as early as spring of 2016. Many of the proposed regulations as contained in the SMP were established in the CAO or at least precedence set.

It appears that the non-conforming regulation currently in effect under the WAC will be updated in the SMP. The existing formula that regulates how much you can increase the size of an existing non-conforming home on the waterfront or near a wetland is not included in the proposed SMP. In my opinion, the draft SMP language to address a non-conforming home remodel is more discretionary on the part of the Planners during their decision process.

The proposed language is more relaxed as there appears to be no limit on the size that the non-conforming home can be increased. However, you must propose mitigation measures to address any potential negative impacts to the critical areas. This requirement will have to be met by retaining professionals to prepare reports acceptable to the County

A legally non-conforming structure is defined as one that is out of compliance with the current regulations, but was in conformance at the time of its construction. For example, a home that is 35 feet from the shoreline versus the current setback as required by the CAO, is considered a non-conforming structure.

In order to expand an existing non-conforming structure under the current regulation and formula, you will need to obtain a building permit prior to the effective date of the SMP. A Residential Pre Approval is not binding and will not survive a regulation change.

If you are the owner of a non-conforming structure and are contemplating a remodel or expansion, you should review the existing regulation as well as proposed. I have attached links below; one to the current non-conforming regulation and one to the PROPOSED language in the SMP. If you believe that the proposed regulation will be more difficult to comply with than the existing, I would not delay your application for a permit.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW EXISTING WAC FOR NON-CONFORMING CONSTRUCTION

CLICK HERE TO VIEW PROPOSED SMP LANGUAGE

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE COUNTY WEBSITE FOR ENTIRE SMP