Neighbors shocked by piles of dirt from U.S. 101 widening
Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News
Ed Telenick of Sequim stands on what he refers to as "Mount Sherburne," made up of fill from the U.S. 101 widening project that was dumped across from his home.
By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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“I call it Mount Sherburne,” Telenick said at his home about 6 miles west of Sequim. “And every day, it's gotten a little bit bigger.”
Scarsella Bros., the Kent-based contractor building two new lanes on the highway for the state, pays Port Angeles-based DelHur Industries to dump leftover dirt on the 15-acre property owned by DelHur.
“We needed a home for our dirt. They wanted it,” said Bob Scarsella, vice president of Scarsella Bros., who declined to comment on how much DelHur is being paid.
DelHur officials did not return repeated requests for comment.
Scarsella Bros. has been working since April on a $27.1 million state Department of Transportation project that will widen the last 3.5-mile stretch of the two-lane highway between Sequim and Port Angeles to four lanes. The project is expected to be completed next year.
For most of the spring and summer, excavators and dump trucks have been removing earth for the new lanes and hauling it to the Sherburne Road site, which sits south of the highway almost exactly at the midpoint of the widening project.
In an environmental analysis of the project, the state and federal departments of Transportation estimated that 234,800 cubic yards of dirt cut from hills and 62,000 cubic yards of fill would be exported from the highway project.
Scarsella said the plan is to dump about 125,000 cubic yards of dirt from the highway project at the Sherburne Road site.
Scarsella has another dump site permitted to hold 50,000 cubic yards of dirt behind the old Midway Metals shop at 258010 U.S. Highway 101, west of Barr Road, said Clallam County senior planner Greg Ballard.
No permit was needed to dump dirt at the Sherburne site, Ballard said.
Telenick said he didn't know the valley across from his home would be filled in by the sand, loam and clay highway soil until trees started coming down.
“I know the dirt's got to go somewhere, and I'm as happy about the new lanes on the highway as anybody,” he said.
“But nobody told us this was going to be here, and nobody seems to know how much bigger it's going to get.”
Telenick is also worried about what may happen to “Mount Sherburne” in the future.
“I asked [DelHur CEO] Sam Hurworth right here what he plans to do with it,” Telenick said at the entrance to the dump site.
“One time, he told me he was going to divide it up and put houses on it.”
“Another time, he told me it was only temporary, that they were going to take the dirt away.”
According to the real estate records on file with the county Treasurer's Office, DelHur purchased the property for $233,472 in March 2012.
At the end of June this year, the company also purchased properties on Cliff Robinson Road, near the landfill site.
Telenick said other neighbors have expressed concern to him about the dirt pile but are worried that the trees that remain on the property's border will be cut down if they complain too much.
Disposal of dirt from construction is not part of the state's concern, said Jerry Moore, project engineer for the state Department of Transportation's Port Angeles office.
“Once the contractor digs it up, it becomes their dirt, and it's up to them to find a legal place to get rid of it,” Moore said.
Ballard said the Sherburne Road property is a legal place to dump the dirt under county code.
“That's a permitted use in our code,” Ballard said.
Because the property is not deemed a critical area, he said, the county had no regulation regarding clearing or grading the land, and DelHur was issued an administrative-use permit for the landfill, which means it didn't need to notify neighbors or the public.
“These are the rules we have,” Ballard said.
Scarsella said his firm should be finished removing dirt from the new highway portions at the end of the construction season this fall.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: August 06. 2013 9:23PM