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Appeal period extended for Winslow project after notification gaffe

The Winslow Way reconstruction comment period will end on June 26. - Brad Camp/ Staff Photo
The Winslow Way reconstruction comment period will end on June 26.
— image credit: Brad Camp/ Staff Photo

City initially failed to notice condo owners near the site.

The comment period for the city’s upcoming Winslow Way reconstruction project was scheduled to end June 9.

However, condo owners near the construction zone failed to receive written notice of the upcoming project as required under state law.

The gaffe has caused the city to reissue a mitigated determination of nonsignificance (MDNS) today and extend the comment and appeal period for the project.

The MDNS is essentially a statement by the city asserting all potential environmental consequences related to the construction project are being mitigated, as required under the State Environmental Policy Act.

“There were several condo owners that were not notified,” said city planner Chris Wierzbicki. “Somehow we overlooked them, and in order to keep the peace we’re reissuing the (MDNS).”

Notification regulations require that written notice be given to some property owners who own land or homes within 300 feet of the construction zone.

The MDNS for the project was first issued on May 15. The city’s determination allows the project to bypass a full review under SEPA regulations. The original comment period was extended to June 9 after at least one person raised objections to the limited amount of time the city gave to comment on the project.

“Why is it that the city insisted on trying to give minimum notice to citizens? They have spent many months, if not years, studying these things,” said Chris Otorowski, an island attorney and downtown property owner. “Why not open the comment period for 30 days instead of 14? The city apparently considers that when it mails notice when the 14-day period starts. That doesn’t allow for the time it takes to get through the mail, so in fact most people don’t even get 14 days notice.”

Under state law, 14 days is the minimum amount of notification to be given for any project with a SEPA determination.

The revised comment period will now close on June 26. Parties can file a formal appeal of the MDNS determination by July 6. Those looking to appeal must have written statements of fact to back up their objections.

Completion of the notice period would bring the construction project closer to its December 2009 contract date, with construction slated to begin in March 2010 and last through November 2010.

So far, the city has received several comments on the project, mostly positive.

“We’ve had some positive comments,” Wierzbicki said. “Some offered suggestions to keep down noise and we had a letter of support form Kitsap Transit. But we haven’t had a whole lot of responses.

“None of those (responses) said they were going to appeal,” Wierzbicki added.

However, some of the property owners who did not receive sufficient notice, or any notice at all, may challenge the project.

“I’m thinking of appealing,” Otorowski said. “And at least this (re-issuance) will allow enough time to give it careful review.”

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