04/17/2012: "-- Guest Column --"
By Tom Starr
As a land surveyor and land use permit consultant I worked with the County’s property development rules from their inception in the 1970’s until my retirement in 2009.
During this period I worked with dozens of property owners in the successful development of their property, while respecting our beautiful environment.
During this period we saw the advent of the Shoreline Master Program, the Comprehensive Plan, the Growth Management Act, and frequent periodic updates of all the attendant rules.
It is with pride that I point to the many projects I worked on as examples which strike a good balance between the owners’ wishes and protecting the environment.
We followed the rules, filled out the forms, hired the experts, did the SEPA reviews, presented the information and studies to the County, had the public hearings, and spent the required money for application fees/wetland biologists/civil engineering / surveying /and the fees of other specialists.
We frequently experienced long delays in getting project approvals. The rules we followed were not always simple ones, but we followed them.
It is difficult for me to understand where we screwed up. What are the problems associated with all this work that I and the other professionals, and our clients, have created with this almost 40 years worth of work?
Is the storm water runoff associated with our designs and projects polluting the Sound, or the streams, or the lakes? Are the storm water runoff treatment and drainage plans we prepared and installed not doing the job?
We followed all the building setback distances, took photos of the screening vegetation, marked trees and brush for Planning Dept. future follow up.
We worked with the architects and builders to comply with the codes, and in general thought we were following a tough set of rules and thereby protecting the environment which is so precious to all of us.
But I guess all this wasn’t good enough.
What is the problem? What is being polluted? Are the wetlands studies we did and the resulting buffers we had to install not working? Are all the County wetland maps and project reviews being done not good enough? What is wrong?
You don’t have to change all the rules with these onerous new CAO rules.
You do not have a list of Findings which substantiate the changes being proposed. For months the question has been continuously asked -What is the problem? But no answers are forthcoming.
Stand up. Be courageous. You can determine and state a Finding that our existing rules are doing the job. Defend our time tested development rules and regulations. We have protected our environment and there is no proof to the contrary.