Hearing examiner sides with Heritage Baptist Fellowship
MONROE - The city’s hearing examiner ruled against the resident who challenged the environmental study for the controversial East Monroe rezone proposal.
Resident Lowell Anderson said last week he was disappointed, but not surprised by the ruling.
The decision was “expected particularly since the city fired the previous hearing examiner for ruling against (the city),” Anderson wrote in a statement.
Last year Anderson appealed the proposal’s previous environmental study and won. The city then fired that hearing examiner and hired a Bellevue firm to handle hearing examiner duties.
Hearing examiner Carl Cox submitted his decision Dec. 5. It stated: “The appellants failed to prove that the EIS (environmental impact statement) is inadequate by a preponderance of the evidence, and the SEPA appeal is hereby denied.”
Cox goes on to state that the EIS provides “reasonably sufficient discussion and analysis for the reader concerning potential impacts from development of the property.”
In his appeal, Anderson argued the study is flawed and identified 12 problems with the environmental study, many of which he won on appeal last time. Cox denied all 12.
At the City Council meeting on Dec. 10, council members approved the first reading of the East Monroe comprehensive plan amendment and rezone. The second and final vote is scheduled for Dec. 17.
The 42-acre marshy farmland property in east Monroe is currently zoned limited open space. Only 15 acres are suitable for building, according to the environmental study paid for by the property owner.
Heritage Baptist Fellowship, the primary landowner, wants the property rezoned to general commercial.
The church has been trying for years to get a rezone approved. The proposal has serious environmental, traffic and infrastructure issues. Many in the community are opposed to the rezone, including Anderson who lives on the bluff overlooking the site.
The proposal had been rejected every step of the way until Mayor Robert Zimmerman and a friendly City Council put it back on the city’s agenda.
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