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    Preserving Skagit County's rural character by protecting the environment, supporting        sustainable resource based economies and promoting livable urban communities.

 

FOSC Appeal of Skagit Enviornmental Bank a wetland bank project proposed by Clear Valley Environmental Farm, LLC in Whatcom Superior Court, Friday, March 12, 2010.

WHO: Friends of Skagit County

WHAT: Appeal of the grading permit requested by Clear Valley Environmental Farm for the Skagit Environmental Bank, a 396 acre wetland mitigation bank.

WHEN: Friday, March, 12, 2010 at 1:30 pm. The hearing is open to the public. The case will be considered as part of a docket of other cases and is likely to be heard later in the afternoon.

WHERE: Whatcom Superior Court 3, 311 Grand Avenue, Bellingham, WA.

WHY: Friends appealed the grading permit requested by Clear Valley because the project will move up to 1.3 million cubic yards of soil and render 396 acres of prime agricultural land useless for future farming. The land is currently zoned Ag-NRL and has been in active farming since Skagit was founded.

The Skagit Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) refused to hear Friend's appeal request and issued a letter saying the Hearing Examiner's remand hearing decision stands. Friends has asked the court to determine whether the Commissioners must hear the appeal under the rule of necessity.

MORE INFORMATION: Friends appealed the County's approval of the shoreline and grading permits and SEPA determination beginning in 2006 to the County Hearing Examiner and the BOCC. The BOCC sent the appeal back to the Examiner for further consideration of flooding and other issues in 2009. The Examiner issued a remand decision to allow the project and Friends appealed the remand decision.

Clear Valley requested Commissioner Wesen recuse himself from hearing Friends' appeal to the BOCC because of the appearance of a conflict of interest. CommissionerWesen was President of the Skagit Farm Bureau (SFB) when the SFB appealed the Clear Valley SEPA request for the bank project. The SEPA appeal was dismissed by the Hearing Examiner.

A conflict of interest and recusal from sitting in a judicial capacity is determined by the elected official. Statements made during campaigns are exempt from the conflict of interest rule of the Fairness Doctrine.

FOSC argued that if Commissioner Wesen's conflict of interest was valid, then the other two Commissioners should also recuse themselves, since all three had passed a moratorium on wetland mitigation banks. Commissioners Dahlstedt and Dillion then recused themselves and none of the commissioners heard the appeal.

As we understand it, Skagit County is self-insured through a risk pool of counties. The attorney for the risk pool determined the County's should not risk liability for Clear Valley's threatened claim of "loss of business and damages" by hearing the appeal.

Under the rule of necessity, officials with appearances of conflicts of interest must un-recuse themselves and hear cases where there is no other entity to do so. FOSC asked the Skagit County Court to determine if the rule of necessity applies and whether the BOCC must hear the Friends' appeal.

Please send your contribution to Friends today! Any amount is appreciated. This Superior Court appeal cost $8,000 and we cannot continue without your support! Friends began the appeal of the Clear Valley proposed wetland mitigation bank over 3 years ago and is the sole remaining appellant. 396 acres of prime agricultural land will never be farmed again if the project is permitted. Thanks to all who have already sent their support!

Tell your friends to send whatever amount they can to FOSC, P.O. Box 2436, Mount Vernon, WA 98273-2436 or use a credit card to contribute at any social network site like NETWORK FOR GOOD. You can also go to www.friendsofskagitcounty.org for more information and to contribute using Network for Good, click on Get Involved. Thanks for helping us save Skagit farmland!

 

   

Preserving Skagit County's rural character by protecting the environment, supporting sustainable, resource-based economics and promoting livable urban communities.

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