I am here tonight to make one request of Council. I am asking that you investigate the delay publishing of the Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) and hold those responsible, accountable.
You have in your packet my presentation to the hearing examiner regarding Development Application of Thuesen Custom Homes, File #S-05 /SD-05-8, received by the city on March 15, 2006. As you can see in that presentation, among other things, I reference the delay publishing of the critical areas ordinance. To refresh your memories, the new CAO was passed by council on November 23, 2004, but was not published until February 10, 2005, 79 days later. The development application, referenced, was submitted on January 18, 2005.
At the time of my presentation I, and my neighbors, were aware of the delay in publishing the CAO, but were not aware that the delay publishing did not delay the effective date of the ordinance. It’s reasonable to assume that citizens of Edmonds would not understand this legal point. My question to you is, why did our city attorney, Scott Snyder, who co-signed the ordinance with the former mayor, not know that the delay publishing did not delay the effective date of the ordinance?
Publishing an ordinance is a ministerial duty only. A delay in publishing an ordinance cannot legally delay the effective date of the ordinance. In this case, the ordinance was passed by council on November 23, 2004 and became effective in December of 2004, despite the fact that the ordinance was not published until February of 2005. Council president Bernheim has been forwarded detailed research on case law which supports this conclusion.
The reason this is so important is that the developer was allowed to vest under the old CAO. If Mr. Snyder had simply informed staff that the CAO was in effect PRIOR TO Mr. Thuesen’s application date of January 18, 2005, hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars in litigation costs, staff time, and court costs could have been saved, and private citizens would have been spared the expense, time, and stress of the last five and a half years. In addition, a valuable resource would have been protected from the serious damage that it has sustained.
My family moved into our home near this wetland over 21 years ago. We witnessed a beautiful (approximately) 10,000-square foot-wetland that became a pond in the winter, and a home to numerous ducks, disappear into a haven, not for critters and native plants, but for noxious weeds. There is no pond in the winter. The wetland has been partially filled, cleared, and graded by the property owner.
For over five years, my neighbors and I have been involved in this stressful, contentious, legal mess that was the responsibility of the city. I am appealing to council, tonight, to finally, take the burden off of private citizens and investigate the delay publishing of the CAO. Those responsible MUST be held accountable.