Use of school shed irks neighborTruck traffic was not part of a decade-old agreement.

"Tom and Kathleen DeVange wake daily to the beeping of a truck's back-up alarm, vehicle doors slamming or the persistent throb of diesel engines. The noise comes from a nearby shed at the southwest corner of the Bainbridge High School grounds, just 30 feet behind the DeVange home on Whited Place. If we had known that we would wind up with a heavy equipment maintenance depot virtually in our back yard, we would never have bought (our) property, Tom DeVange said. DeVange described the noise problem to the school board at its Dec. 14 meeting, and asked the district to honor an 11-year-old promise to be quiet. "

  • Saturday, December 30, 2000 7:00pm
  • News

“Tom and Kathleen DeVange wake daily to the beeping of a truck’s back-up alarm, vehicle doors slamming or the persistent throb of diesel engines. The noise comes from a nearby shed at the southwest corner of the Bainbridge High School grounds, just 30 feet behind the DeVange home on Whited Place. If we had known that we would wind up with a heavy equipment maintenance depot virtually in our back yard, we would never have bought (our) property, Tom DeVange said. DeVange described the noise problem to the school board at its Dec. 14 meeting, and asked the district to honor an 11-year-old promise to be quiet.DeVange related how, in 1989, former Bainbridge Island School District Superintendent Neal Nunamaker, acting as consultant to the district for construction of new facilities, had met with the DeVanges and their next door neighbors, Robert and Sally Snyder. Nunamaker, he said, told them that a 60×60-foot metal storage shed was proposed for a site adjacent to the DeVange property, and asked them to sign a consent form for the land-use permit. According to DeVange, Nunamaker assured them that the shed would be used only for passive long-term storage, and that it would be opened infrequently. Of the five families living on the cul-de-sac, DeVange and three neighbors ultimately signed the document supporting the school district’s request to Kitsap County Building Department for a use permit to build the shed. The agreement stipulated that the shed would not be an additional source of noise, and that landscaping would screen the building from view.The fifth neighbor, attorney Rober Snyder, did not endorse the document, but appended the signed statement that while he didn’t support the idea, neither did he oppose it. Snyder says of his decision not to endorse the building of the shed: I didn’t think (building the shed) was a particularly good idea, he said. It would reduce the size of the buffer zone between the school, which is an industrial land use, and a residential neighborhood. We wanted to be a good neighbors to the school, though, so we didn’t outright oppose the shed. We just didn’t support it.Snyder said the noise he hears is less than the noise level at the DeVange home, because his property is farther from the shed. The property of the remaining neighbors on the cul-de-sac is yet further away from the source of the noise. Noise logOver time, the use of the shed has changed, with the facility now used for vehicle maintenance as well as the storage of equipment.In documenting the problem, DeVange kept a daily log of offending noise, which he presented to the board. And the problem may have existed for some time before DeVange, who retired in July, realized the full scope. He described sitting in his enclosed porch last summer while the smell of diesel fuel wafted into the small room. We moved near the high school deliberately, said DeVange. We liked being so close that our three kids could walk to school. It was convenient. We accepted that there would be some noise from the school, from football games and the like. But we didn’t want to increase that burden.District officials agree with DeVange that the problem had evolved over the 11 years, as district personnel changed and the existence of the document stipulating quiet was evidently forgotten.No one on the district side said, ‘Gee, let’s ratchet up the noise and catch them unaware,’ board member Bruce Weiland said.One district official told DeVange employees have been instructed not to access the shed before 7 a.m. But DeVange considers noise reduction insufficient remediation, in light of the written stipulation that there be no noise. It is clear that they are going to try the least disruptive means to them to accommodate me, he said.After hearing DeVange’s presentation to the board, Rowley said a committee charged with capital facilities use is considering the matter. We think we will be able find some other options, Rowley said. I don’t know what those are yet.While Neal Nunamaker can’t recall specific verbal assurances he may have given DeVange in 1989 on the district’s behalf, he said, I do clearly remember that we were interested in not making a big, fat nuisance of ourselves, and that’s why we worked with the neighborhood. “

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