Resident asks hearing examiner to reconsider decision
MONROE - The hearing examiner has been asked to reconsider his decision upholding East Monroe’s environmental study for its controversial rezone request.
Resident Lowell Anderson, who lost his appeal of the study, asked for the reconsideration last week.
Hearing examiner Carl Cox has 10 days to issue a response.
Cox, a Bellevue attorney, was hired by the city to hear Anderson’s appeal, which challenged the validity of the environmental study paid for by property owner Heritage Baptist Fellowship on its 42 acres of wetland property in east Monroe it wants to change from limited open space to commercial.
The previous hearing examiner, John Galt, was fired promptly after he released a decision in Anderson’s favor when Anderson challenged the rezone’s previous study on the property in 2012.
The rezone ordinance is scheduled for a vote at a special City Council meeting the day after Christmas.
The outgoing Mayor Robert Zimmerman’s administration made it clear it wanted this rezone adopted before the year ends.
Anderson’s most recent appeal touched on 12 key flaws in the study. Cox disagreed with each one without providing much evidence or factual information as to how he reached his decision.
Cox’s 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.”
Should Cox uphold his Dec. 5 decision, Anderson could appeal to the state Growth Management Board.
Because the accompanying rezone is part of a bundle of amendments to the city’s comprehensive plan, Anderson’s request for reconsideration will delay the other amendments, which is why the city is making council members attend a special meeting the day after Christmas.
The marshy farmland property is currently zoned limited open space and is prone to flooding. Only 15 acres are suitable for building, according to the church’s environmental study.
The church has been trying for years to get a rezone approved. The property has serious environmental, traffic and infrastructure issues. Many in the community and the state Department of Ecology 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 Zimmerman and a friendly City Council put it back on the city’s agenda.
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