Residents to appeal East Monroe study
MONROE - Two residents plan to appeal the final environmental impact statement for the East Monroe rezone request to the city’s hearing examiner.
Lowell Anderson and Jeffrey Rogers, who live on the bluff above the environmentally sensitive rezone site, filed the notice to appeal earlier this month.
The appeal notice points out a long list of problems with the study.
Anderson and Rogers won on essentially these points the last time Heritage Baptist Fellowship Church tried to get its rezone approved.
After the homeowners’ victory the city immediately fired the hearing examiner and let the church re-do the study. Mayor Robert Zimmerman is a close political ally of the church’s pastor Thomas Minnick and his son Chad Minnick.
The church has been trying for years to change about 42 acres of flood-prone farmland located in the eastern edge of the city right off U.S. 2 to commercial. The area has many environmental, infrastructure and traffic constraints — so many that the church now says only 11 acres are suitable for development, although many challenge the veracity of that assertion.
The problems with the study pointed out in Anderson and Rogers’ latest appeal include:
• the study doesn’t consider agriculture as an alternative use to commercial
• the study doesn’t identify methods of flood storage, or the fact that the area has a history of flooding
• the study ignores concerns identified by the Department of Ecology, including that the study is scientifically flawed
• access to the site off U.S. 2 is difficult and ignored in the study
• the study doesn’t address the environmental impact of extending utility lines to the site, which currently lacks electrical, sewer and water infrastructure
• the economic risks to develop the site weren’t addressed in the study, including that it probably would be subject to state and federal review
• the study is inconsistent with the state’s Growth Management Act
“We endorse the document as good science and it’s complete,” planning manager Paul Popelka said when the city released the final study to the City Council earlier this month.
The hearing examiner is scheduled to hear the appeal at 10 a.m. on Nov. 7, but that date may change. Anderson and Rogers have asked for more time to prepare their case.
The city wants to approve the rezone by the end of the year.
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