From: Rudy Gahler [mailto:rgahler@fidalgo.net]

Sent: Friday, January 25, 2002 12:27 PM

To: info@evergreenislands.org

Subject: Fircrest PUD

 

 

Dear Evergreenisland Board,

 

I am concerned about the Fir island PUD impact on the Mitten pond area and I would like to get involved in reducing the impact especially of Phase III.

 

I have a number of legal questions:

Rudy - First, thanks for caring.  I'll try to answer to your questions (in blue text) – Tom Glade.

 

1) Was the developer able to circumvent an environmental impact statement?

Did the city Planning commission overstep its authority in granting a Mitigated Determination of Non-significance?

Initially the City did issue the developer a DNS, which means he's not required to prepare an EIS.  An EIS can cost $50,000 and upwards so the pro-development City has been reluctant to require them.  However last Wednesday evening, a coalition of groups (neighbors, Evergreen Islands, Friends of the Forest, the Forest Advisory Board, Dr. Barnes, and the Washington Department of Ecology) successfully convinced the Planning Commission of the need to retract the Fir Crest DNS and the City now requires the developer to submit an EIS before the project can proceed.

 

2) Apparently he plans to build on the narrow ridge east of the Mitten pond.  Does he thereby avoid disturbing the wetland between phase II and III?

The Permit Conditions would require the developer to protect the wetlands with debris fences, retention ponds, etc., but for most of the Anacortes developments involving wetlands, the wetlands have either been badly damaged or completely destroyed.  (To his credit, Mr. Strandberg (one of the Fir Crest developers) did a decent job with the Cedar Springs development.)  In a letter to the City, the Department of Ecology noted that the Fir Crest wetland is a Class II wetland and that they recommend 200’ buffers rather than the 25’ buffers required by the City.

 

3) How is he able to get around the density rules of the Growth Management Act?  Isn't there a rule that only four houses can be built together in one cluster?  How does he end up with permits for 64?

One of the primary purposes of the GMA is to concentrate population growth in urban areas in an effort to reduce the cost of the infrastructure and to protect the rural areas from urban sprawl.  Under the GMA, the standard urban density is 4 units per acre (clustered housing or CaRDs are intended for rural areas).  So if the land were flat, Fir Crest's 27 acres could theoretically result in 108 homes.  However Dr. Barnes has shown that with Anacortes standards for setbacks, streets, sidewalks, retention ponds, etc, it's impossible to actually attain the 4 units/acre in Anacortes.  Fir Crest is a Planned Unit Development (PUD), and a PUD allows higher densities when a property’s critical areas (wetlands, steep slopes, etc.) prevent the property from being developed to its potential.

 

4) Do you have any legal evaluation as to what the chances are to change this development?

At this point, legal action is not being considered.  As a rule of thumb, legal actions cost $20,000.  Since it would be prohibitive to take legal action on every bad development that comes along, a better approach is to insist that the City require that new developments meet higher standards.

 

Perhaps if legal intervention is planned you do not want to lay your cards on the table.  If that is not a concern could the answers to these and other questions be placed on the website?

A lot of people have requested that the City buy the Fir Crest land with the money Lakeside is paying for the quarry extension.  However, Mr. Strandberg has commented that he prefers a land swap.  This is a pivotal point in the ACFL’s future, so please contact your City Councilman and Mayor Maxwell and ask them to vigorously pursue acquiring the property.

 

Thank you for helping to protect our forest lands.

Rudy Gahler, 293-6150