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Development still pending near Tracyton
The developer of a proposed nine home subdivision near Tracyton is asking Kitsap County to give him a variance that will allow him to go forward with his project.
Jim Reed, of SMCI Corporation based in Gig Harbor, submitted the request to the county’s Department of Community Development in late April. Specifically, SMCI is requesting a technical deviation to infiltrate on fill dirt.
In May of last year, the county denied developer Jeff Reed’s original application to build nine single family homes on a single 1.85 acre lot which he plans to subdivide.
The county said his plans for storm water detention didn’t meet the county’s code. The property in question sits near Tracyton Boulevard and a private road, NW Gillespie Way.
Reed appealed the county’s decision which sent the dispute to the Kitsap County hearing examiner. The hearing examiner asked that Reed and the county look at ways to solve the water issues prior to Reed’s appeal being heard.
Those negotiations have been on-going. The hearing has been set and postponed several times and is now set for May 22.
Neighbors, who formed the Tracyton Wetlands Preservation Society, have been opposed to the development from the beginning. They have said that they already are dealing with stormwater run-off from the property and are concerned that development would increase the risk of flooding throughout the neighborhood.
They contend that the developer has excavated natural soil and replaced it with fill dirt and that that has already impacted the neighborhood by exacerbating water run-off issues.
They informed the county that native soils had been removed and fill dirt had been placed on the property years ago which apparently had a negative affect on the already high level water table.
The group hired their own hydrogeologist and engineer to do independent tests and identify where the proposed development doesn’t meet county code.
“We encourage the DCD to deny the technical deviation and deny the revised short subdivision proposal because it does not comply with county drainage regulations and will increase the risks of additional flooding,” said Joyce Merkel, who along with the wetland preservation group submitted an 18-page response asking the department to deny the deviation.
The report included a technical study by the group’s hydrogeologist which states that the variance should not be issued on an area that “20 years ago was a wetland which was excavated and filled without the proper county permits.”
“Because of the excavation and fill of the wetlands, we do not know how much glacial till was taken out, nor do we know exactly what has been placed under the soil,” said Ron Gillespie, another member of the wetlands preservation group. “We don’t know if curtain drains were put in.”
Because of the unknowns, the county should not allow homes to be built on the property, Gillespie said.
From everything that he’s been able to find out about the project, Gillespie thinks the developer plans to pipe water off the property, rather than infiltrate water on site.
Additionally, he has concerns about his well.
“My well is within 100 feet and down gradient from the proposed porous pavement infiltration facility at a southwest angle,” he said. “The natural down-gradient flow is to the southwest thus heading directly towards my well. Also the infiltration facility will be built on fill that was not designed for the purpose of infiltration.”
He said the access road which is part of the porous pavement facility for infiltration, will be used for parking as well as ingress and egress to nine houses. The oils and other related pollutants could well serve as a health issue related to his drinking water.
Larry Keeton, director of the county’s department of community development, said under county code, the department can grant minor technical deviations provided that certain things are met, including that the developer will “produce a compensating or comparable result which is in the public interest, provide substantially equivalent environmental protection, and that it meets the objectives of safety, function, appearance, and is based on sound engineering judgment.”
If a variance is granted by the department, that will become part of the record presented to the Kitsap County Hearing Examiner on May 22.
The county could accept the proposal as presented and continue the process without going to the hearing officer; the county could agree to the deviation and go to the hearing officer and recommend agreement with SMCI; the county could reject the proposal and go to the hearing officer for a decision; SMCI could request a continuance of the hearing officer; or the hearing officer could grant a variance which is different from a deviation and allow the project to go forward or require the county to work it out with the developer.
Reed did not return phone calls for comment.