Ecology questions another Monroe environmental study
MONROE - The Department of Ecology has joined the list of groups that have taken notice of “significant oversights” in the city’s environmental review of the proposed wakeboard park on Lake Tye.
The city determined the project, which would take over 17 acres of the lake at the south end, will not significantly impact the environment and can go forward with permitting without conducting a more extensive environmental impact statement.
Ecology wetlands specialist Paul Anderson wrote in a letter to the city that there are “significant aspects of the project that have not been adequately addressed.”
The most critical areas lacking in discussion and analysis were increased wave energy from the wakeboard activity and the risk of water quality degradation, Anderson said.
Resident Diane Elliott appealed the city’s determination of non-significance, which says the project doesn’t need any further environmental review. The appeal is scheduled to go before city hearing examiner Bellevue attorney Carl Cox Friday, Nov. 16.
In the letter, Ecology notes that the city classifies Lake Tye’s primary function as storing and treating storm water runoff and raises the important but ignored issue of water quality degradation.
“Inadequately treated and detained storm water from the Fryelands area has been discharging to Lake Tye for a number of years. Urban storm water is known to carry a number of contaminants, such as hydrocarbons, herbicides and pesticides, and heavy metals, several of which are known to be a risk to human health,” Anderson wrote.
Anderson’s letter pointed out that the city has not done an analysis on sediment contaminants in the vicinity and how these contaminants could be mobilized by increased wave energy in the lake.
“Not assessing potential water quality impacts, including any potential risks to human health, would be a significant oversight. The project submittals to date do not address this potential impact, rendering the current application incomplete,” Anderson wrote.
This isn’t the first time Monroe has ignored recommendations from Ecology.
Anderson also wrote to the city in March about outdated and incomplete information about key environmental impacts in its draft phased environmental impact statement concerning Heritage Baptist Fellowship’s controversial rezone in the east part of town.
“Ecology believes that the wetlands and shorelines sections of the DPEIS need to be revised to more accurately reflect current site conditions and permitting requirements,” Anderson wrote in the letter to the city.
For that study, the city relied on a 1999 wetland delineation study and a 2005 wetland inventory report, which Anderson says were too old and didn’t meet state and federal standards for review that will be necessary for the rezone request.
The city’s response to that letter was basically to butt out.
In both instances, public works director Brad Feilberg was responsible for making these environmental determinations. Feilberg said at the time that the city didn’t need current data at that point in the review of the rezone project.
Environmentalists helping Elliott with the appeal also are concerned about the impacts the park will have on the biology of the lake, which is home to many species, including the bald eagle.
Elliot’s appeal argues city code forbids gas-powered and electric motors to operate on the lake.
The city’s Shoreline Master Program (SMP) states that “new boating facilities may be constructed to provide improved access for non-motorized and small electric boats less than 1.5 horsepower.”
Elliot also cites municipal code which prohibits “motors in excess of one and three-quarters horsepower, including model boats, be allowed on Lake Tye, unless otherwise approved by special event permit.”
The wakeboard park won’t pull wakeboarders by boat but by a motorized cable tow system.
Elliot argues the park’s cable tow motors which control this “aggressive sport” violate the parts of code she cites, and that the city has “the prime responsibility for administering the regulatory requirements” of the shoreline plan.
A representative for wakeboard park developers H30 has asked the city to deny the appeal, saying the appeal does not establish a probable adverse impact.
The project would take up 17 acres of the 42-acre lake and would build a cable-tow wakeboard ride supported by six towers and a beginner cable line supported by two towers in the southern portion of the lake. The ride would include trick features, and a 2,500-square-foot pro shop would be built for ticket and retail sales, restrooms, lockers and office.
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