Grassroots activists fighting a proposed gravel mine in a rural area north of Sedro-Woolley asked Skagit County to reconsider a “semi-incoherent, absurd” decision approving the project without further restrictions.
Central Samish Valley Neighbors (CSVN) filed a formal “Request for Reconsideration” on Friday, Feb. 8, instead of appealing the decision issued by former county hearing examiner Andrew Reeves.
“That decision didn’t satisfy any of their [Skagit County] criteria,” said Kyle Loring, the attorney for CSVN, which opposes the mine. “On its face, we consider that invalid.”
The long-awaited “Notice of Decision,” failed to include the fundamentals: finding of facts, conclusion of law and conditions on the project moving forward to address any environmental and public health concerns. Nonetheless, it opens the door for Concrete Nor’West to begin developing Grip Road Gravel Mine, which has been stuck in limbo for more than six years.
“It was disappointing that the county actually decided to call that a final decision,” Loring said.
Unlike an appeal, the filing asserts that the decision released by the county on Feb. 2 was invalid and requests that a new hearing examiner review the evidence first presented to Reeves nearly 18 months ago.
Additionally, Loring said he wants all parties to have a chance to directly present their arguments, again.
“We have requested that it be heard by a different hearing examiner, essentially based on the fact that the previous hearing examiner didn’t take it seriously enough to issue an actual decision,” Loring said.
Appeals of the decision were required to be filed by Wednesday, Feb. 14. However, the request for reconsideration extends that period of time, allowing CSVN to file an appeal after hearing the county’s decision on its request, according to a news release by the organization.
The decision issued by Reeves on the special-use permit followed mounting legal pressure after he missed multiple deadlines. Reeves was not immediately available for comment and is no longer employed by the county.
The Grip Road Gravel Mine, proposed in 2016, is slated to place a 51-acre gravel mine on a 77-acre forested property near Old Highway 99 in Skagit County. Concrete Nor’west plans to log about 68 acres to make room for the mine before hauling about 23 loaded trucks off the property each day for gravel management at other facilities, according to proposal documents.
Prior to CVSN’s action, Cougar Peak LLC filed a narrow appeal of Reeves’ decision based on the lack of traffic safety conditions. The document called the decision “clearly erroneous” and “wrong” saying the failure to address these concerns put “children on school buses, local residents and employees” at risk. Cougar Peak owns about 800 acres of land directly south of the proposed gravel mining operation.
The appeal argues the traffic impacts on Grip Road from the project “create an unacceptable risk to public safety and therefore require denial under applicable law.”
In a statement to Cascadia Daily News, Concrete Nor’West said that it has “worked diligently throughout this process” and “agreed to every mitigation that the County and other agencies have deemed appropriate.”
Isaac Stone Simonelli is CDN’s enterprise/investigations reporter; reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org; 360-922-3090 ext. 127.