The unpermitted development on Bainbridge Island Councilwoman Rasham Nassar’s property is more extensive than the councilwoman and her husband Trenton Riely-Gibbons have acknowledged, according to photographs of the property and public records released by the city.
Nassar, a first-term councilwoman, has been embroiled in controversy since the illegal development on her property has come to light in recent weeks.
Allegations of unpermitted development on Nassar’s nearly 6-acre property on Sands Avenue were first reported in January 2018 on the city’s website on its See-Click-Fix map, a program that allows residents to report problems such as potholes, illegal signs and other violations of the city code.
A city inspector who visited the property last year found two structures in a wetland area and its buffer, and city officials said only one building on the property — a home built in 1910 — was permitted on the land.
Nassar and Riely-Gibbons were given a “Warning of Violation & Order to Correct” on June 28 and were told to stop all work in environmentally sensitive “critical areas” on their property.
City officials also told Nassar and Riely-Gibbons that they would need to apply for permits, and they were also ordered to file a restoration plan for the critical areas where the unauthorized building had taken place.
Nassar and Riely-Gibbons were slow to file for permits, however, and records show the couple was warned in an Au. 18 letter from Greg Vause, the city’s then-code enforcement officer, that they had until Sept. 17 to apply for the proper permits — or remove the unpermitted structure — or the case would be sent to the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office.
Nassar and Riely-Gibbons have since offered an abbreviated account of the unauthorized development of their property.
The couple said work on their land, which they purchased in 2014, was mainly repairs that were done to the walls and roof of a shed/well house that had been damaged by fallen trees in the winter of 2014.
Riely-Gibbons filed an application for an after-the-fact building permit on Sept. 5.
In that application, Riely-Gibbons minimized the work that had been done on the property, public records and photographs show.
Riely-Gibbons said the work on the property was limited to replacing a roof and repairs to “some walls” of the shed/well house, as well as the addition of two new windows in an attic space.
A comparison of the couple’s submitted building plans and a photograph of the shed/well house before the repairs, though, an extensive renovation of the structure.
The earlier photograph of the shed shows the roof just above the shed door, about 7 feet in height, and no attic in the structure. Submitted building plans for the after-the-fact permit detail a dramatically different structure, with a peaked roof with a height of more than 16 feet.
Aerial photographs of the property also show the addition of new structures and hard surfaces on the land since the couple bought the property.
Riely-Gibbons submitted hand-drawn plans for the well/pump house project when he applied for the after-the-fact building permit. The couple’s site plan was also hand-drawn, and shows the shed and the house sitting within a wetland buffer on the property.
Riely-Gibbons also submitted a restoration plan as part of the after-the-fact permit. That mitigation plan for the work in the wetland buffer consists of one sentence: “Maintain vegetation around site.”
Nassar has said she and her husband are cooperating with the city and working to resolve any concerns officials have. She has not responded to multiple requests from the Review for additional comment.
City officials said this week they have yet to return to the Nassar property to investigate the unpermitted building.
That visit was expected to take place this month, and city officials will also examine the scope of other improvements made to the property.
Last month, city officials also told the couple they would need to complete a “site assessment review” of the property.
Once that is submitted, the city will further investigate development on the property and make another site visit, records released by the city indicate.
City officials will also try to determine if other work has been done on the property without permits, including any disturbance to the wetland, additional building construction, or the removal of trees and vegetation.