Sound Off: Surface mining notice too short

An urgent community meeting was held Nov. 22 in Greenbank. Neighbors of Rempel Brothers Concrete Inc. came together to discuss our horror at the notices we recently received in the mail dated Nov. 17.

Rempel Brothers Concrete has applied to expand their surface mining area by 100 acres, adjacent to many of our homes. The questions and fears are many as comments are due no later than 4:30 p.m. Dec. 5 -- next Wednesday!

What will become of our wells? What will we do about the water runoff and seepage as we are all downhill from the 100 acres? What about our aquifer? What about the stream, fragile wetlands, pond, wildlife? Their application even states, “Category A wetland . . . stream and steep slopes.” We simply couldn’t believe our eyes when we read the application has been fast-tracked since the notice states, “Island County expects to issue a determination of non-significance (DNS), and is using the optional DNS process established by WAC 197-11-355. The public comment period may be the only opportunity to comment on the environmental impacts of the following proposals.” The application states a public hearing is not applicable! Their determination of non-significance apparently allows them to forego any proper notice or hearing, which anyone would certainly expect given the scale and scope of the project.

We then learned from an application copy a neighbor obtained from the county that this has been in process since September of 2006. Why then is this the first we have heard of it? Interestingly as well, our notices came in the midst of the hectic holiday season and right before the end of the year. We also learned new wetland rules will be put in place the first part of 2008, thus the application is processed prior. Coincidence? What do you think.

Since the sole source aquifer we depend upon is the same that every resident on the island also depends upon, and since many other residents will likely be impacted by the impending runoff of water and I wonder whether they received notifications like ours, i.e., Greenbank Farm and surrounding communities, North Bluff, Teronda, Ledgewood and the state highway system as well, we are asking you to join us in opposing this application.

Please let the Island County Planning Department, Brandon Sweeza, and your county commissioner, state officials, and others hear from you no later than 4:30 p.m. on Dec 5. The least they can do is offer the public a chance to respond to something this severe.

John and Marcia Comer

Pat and Karen Haster

Dick and Jan Dodge

Judy Wiles and Martin Schmidt

Craig and Debbie Vrungos

Mike and Kellie Browne

David and Melissa Christopherson, and Daniel Horsell

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