Bainbridge Councilwoman Nassar’s public official Facebook page goes silent after illegal development controversy

Bainbridge Island City Councilwoman Rasham Nassar’s public official Facebook page has been taken down.

Nassar set up a Facebook account as a Bainbridge Island city councilwoman following her election to the council in November 2017.

Her Facebook page has gone dark in recent days, however, as controversy continues to swirl around the first-term councilwoman.

Last week, city officials publicly acknowledged for the first time that Nassar and her husband, Trenton Riely-Gibbons, have developed their property on Sands Avenue without permits.

The illegal activity was reported to the city early last year, when someone filed a complaint on the city’s website for “an un-permitted structure in a wetland buffer being used as living space.”

Code violations on the property were investigated from February through May of last year, and the city determined in late June that possible code violations had occurred. Nassar and Gibbons were given a “Warning of Violation & Order to Correct,” and were told to stop all work in environmentally sensitive “critical areas” on their property.

They were ordered to apply for and obtain permits for the work that had been done on their land, and to also submit a restoration plan to the city.

Records show that Riely-Gibbons met with city officials to discuss the illegal development on July 19, and was told that he needed to apply for a building permit within 30 days.

But Nassar and Riely-Gibbons didn’t submit a building permit application, and the city warned the couple the matter would be sent to the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office if they didn’t comply.

The city received a building permit application from the couple 48 days later.

Nassar ran for the city council in November 2017, on a campaign platform that touted her background as an organic farmer, and protecting Bainbridge’s environment was a key part of her run for office. Nassar vowed to “to lead by example” and promised to work to preserve the island’s “unique character and environmental integrity.”

In a letter late last year to the city’s Ethics Board, Nassar claimed the development on her property was “grandfathered” and she said the farmland, the primary residence, primary and secondary driveways, yard, and storage shed/well pumphouse on the property were in “historically disturbed areas.”

Work that had been done on the property was in the buffer to a critical area, she said, and was done after a tree fell in the winter of 2014 and was finished in January 2015.

Nassar told the Review last week that her family was cooperating with the city.

“Since last year, my family and I have been working with the city to obtain an after-the-fact permit for improvements to our well pumphouse/shed building completed in 2015 subsequent to storm damage caused by a falling tree,” Nassar said.

“We are happy to continue working with the city to resolve any outstanding concerns,” she added.

Nassar has not responded to requests for additional comment from the Review.

After her election in late 2017, Nassar said on her Facebook campaign page that she would be setting up an Elected Official Facebook page with assistance from the city attorney.

Her elected official page has since been taken down. Visitors to the page are greeted by a “Sorry, this content isn’t available right now” message.

Posts and replies made on an elected official’s social media account are considered public records in Washington state. City officials were unaware that Nassar’s council member Facebook page had gone dark until contacted earlier this week by the Review.

Since the dustup over the illegal development of her property became public, Nassar has been the subject of harsh criticism online.

That includes the city of Bainbridge Island’s Facebook page.

Earlier this week, someone asked if Nassar would address her permit problems at the Central Ward meeting, planned for 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Jan. 12 at city hall.

“I do hope the audience will ask why Rasham has not resigned yet,” added another poster. “And how [Councilman] Ron [Peltier] will address his ethics violations. I don’t ever remember in my 30 years on the island having two council members representing the same ward with such issues challenging their credibility to govern fairly.”

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