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Make Developers Ask Permission, Not Forgiveness

by on 10/25/2005

There are a handful of developers whose motto is: Ask forgiveness, not permission. This seems to be the most profitable approach for them to build in Edmonds, to the detriment of the citizens of Edmonds. These builders say: I mowed down the trees — oops! These builders say: I forgot to include the open space I promised — oops! Unless the Edmonds Planning Department does its job, next we’ll hear: I destroyed the wetlands — oops! And what is the job of the Edmonds Planning Department? I’ll get to that in a moment.

At the September 6, 2005 Council meeting, there was a heated discussion on the new 5th-and-Walnut building. Edmonds citizens were very disappointed. They wondered: Where’s the promised open space? How did that building happen?

We were told by City Attorney Scott Snyder, and I quote from the minutes of the September 6th meeting: ”…any staff decision that is subject to the LUPA [Land Use Petition Act] and is not appealed [by citizens], becomes final and the city cannot revoke or overturn it.”

In other words, it’s not the job of the Planning Department’s well-paid experts, whose responsibilities include learning, keeping track of, and monitoring a plethora of interconnecting rules and regulations from the feds, state, county, and city. No, it’s the responsibility of the gal and guy next door — who have their own full-time jobs — to learn, keep track of, and monitor a plethora of interconnecting rules and regulations from the feds, state, county, and city so that they might someday file an appeal against a land use project.

Bull! It’s not private citizens’ responsibility to make sure that developers ask permission, not forgiveness. It’s the responsibility of the paid professionals in the Planning Department. In this case, my neighbors and I are asking the Planning Department to require Thuesen Homes, Inc, which intends to develop on property which includes an isolated wetlands, to contact the Army Corps of Engineers and then the state Department of Ecology, and obtain approval for the project before the Planning Department gives their approval. We wish to avoid an appeal — a lengthy, adversarial process involving the time and energy of private citizens, city government and ultimately of the City Council. If the Planning Department chooses to approve the project without the required federal and state assessments, they will be forcing private citizens to do the Planning Department’s job.

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