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Wetlands Spark 10-Year Debate Between Preservationists and Self-Storage Developer in Kitsap County, WA

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Final determination on a controversial self-storage proposal in Kitsap County, Wash., could be near after more than 10 years of debate and stalemates. At issue for the All Secure Self Storage project targeted for a 3-acre parcel that borders the 500-acre Illahee Preserve is the potential effects the development could have on the wetlands and wildlife habitat, according to the source. The building site is behind a former auto-wrecking yard.

Reinout van Beynum, who owns the land at 6014 State Highway 303, filed for development permits for the storage project in 2005. The proposal called for a facility comprising 88,000 square feet in 610 units, according to county documents. The plan was strongly opposed by preservation groups, sparking debate.

The land was cleared in 2006 without permits, revealing a “class-four” wetland at the northeast corner of the property. The county issued a “determination of non-significance” in its 2007 environmental review, which would have allowed Beynum to fill in the wetland and mitigate the environmental impact on the property by paying for habitat restoration on land elsewhere, but a local environmental group, Illahee Forest Preserve, appealed the county’s decision, the source reported.

The preservation group argued the project could damage the habitat and would violate the county’s critical-areas ordinance. A county-hearing examiner opened the debate to public record while more information on the wetland could be obtained, effectively stalling momentum on either side until now.

Though several assessments have been issued in the last 10 years, state and federal experts finally toured the area last Thursday to see the wetland in person, gather information and collect soil samples. Beynum, county officials and members of the preservation group were joined by representatives from the Washington Department of Ecology, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Suquamish Tribe for the three-hour fact-finding expedition. “This has been our big goal the whole time,” county environmental planner Steve Heacock told the source.

Officials from the Illahee Forest Preserve group believe the wetland at the building site is connected to a broader wetland complex within the preserve that drains toward the corner of Highway 303 and McWilliams Road. The nonprofit is hopeful the information gathered at the site is enough to reclassify the wetland to a class one or two, which would require more extensive offsite mitigation and development buffers at the site, according to the source.

The ecology department and Army Corps of Engineers are expected to submit separate reports on their findings from the tour. The reports will be used by the county to make future decisions on the All Secure proposal, Heacock said.

Sources:

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