City of Sequim receives hundreds of MAT clinic comments

Three appeals made on applications classification

SEQUIM — More than 500 comments on the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s proposed medication-assisted treatment clinic application have been submitted to the city of Sequim as the deadline looms.

Sequim senior planner Tim Woolett said Wednesday he’s read 428 emails and hard copy comments from the public with at least 100 more to read and process.

“It’s important that people know their comments are being read,” he said.

The comment timeline is by 4 p.m. Monday.

The proposed outpatient medication-assisted treatment (MAT) clinic would rest on 3.3 acres of an 18.19 parcel off South Ninth Avenue with a 16,720-square-foot clinic. Clinic staff would dispense daily doses of methadone, Suboxone and Vivitrol for opioid-use disorder and provide wrap-around services such as primary care, dental and childcare services for residents of Clallam and Jefferson counties who have voluntarily sought treatment.

A 20-day comment period on the application began when the “Notice of Application” went in the Peninsula Daily News, by the proposed site, on the city’s website and to neighbors within 300 feet of the South Ninth Avenue property by mail. The comment timeline was extended because 20 days ends on a Saturday, city staff said.

Comments are accepted via drop-off at the Sequim Civic Center, 152 W. Cedar St.; by mail to “City of Sequim, Department of Community Development (DCD), c/o Tim Woolett, 152 W. Cedar St., Sequim, WA, 98382,” and/or via email: [email protected].

Comments

City staff members said all comments will be posted online at some point during the application process. They provided no timeline given because of the large number of comments.

Woolett said they are analyzing comments relevant to the application, with about 90 percent indicating they are either for or against the project.

“The use is a decided issue,” he said. “This part of the process is about architecture and site planning (i.e. traffic, roof materials, etc.).”

Woolett said some people are commenting multiple times, with the most being one person submitting seven comments; those are all being read and considered, too, he said.

Barry Berezowsky, Sequim’s director of community development, will consider the project based on city staff’s recommendations under the city’s A-2 processing type. He has until May 26, or 120 days, to make a decision.

Berezowsky said he’s read the emails so far to “get a feeling for what people are saying and feeling” and he’s beginning to consider possible conditions and mitigation that might be necessary for the project.

Woolett’s report will be available once Berezowsky issues his decision.

From the decision date, the public has 21 days to file an appeal of any decision made.

During the application process and prior to a decision, the city will issue a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Threshold Determination, on which the public can comment for 14 days.

A notification for that comment period will be posted on signs by the proposed site, in the newspaper and on the city’s website.

That decision can be appealed, too.

Updates regarding the application are posted online at www.sequimwa.gov/471/Current-Projects.

Woolett said he’s been focused on community comments at this juncture and once the comment period ends he’ll begin creating his “detailed review.”

Classification appeal

The appeal timeline for Berezowsky’s “Notice of Classification” ended on Feb. 14 to contest his decision that the application be reviewed under the A-2 classification process.

Three individuals/groups filed appeals that include paperwork and a $600 fee for a hearing examiner. They include: MacMahon Law Group of Puyallup for homeowners of Parkwood Manufactured Housing Community, LLC.; Bob Bilow of Sequim, and attorney Michael Spence with Helsell and Fetterman of Seattle for the group Save Our Sequim.

The three appeals all ask for the project to be reviewed under the C-2 process and City Council review.

Woolett said all three appeals are deemed complete and will be considered by a hearing examiner after Berezowsky’s decision on the project is made. The hearing examiner would be hired by the city to hear appeals about the classification, the SEPA threshold and the project decision itself.

All appeals require the same fee and paperwork.

Community members made their appeals public including Bilow and members of Save Our Sequim at Sequim city council meetings.

Appeal comments

Under SOS’s appeal, Spence wrote that the A-2 process is inappropriate because the project meets the “Essential Public Facility” designation under the state’s Growth Management Act.

MacMahon Law Group wrote similar statements and they both say the facility is closer to an alcohol and/or drug treatment center than an outpatient care facility.

Spence wrote that the tribe rebranded its project from the “Jamestown Healing Campus” to the “Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe Outpatient Clinic” after it dropped plans for a second phase inpatient psychiatric evaluation and treatment facility.

He wrote, “the city believes that this project is exclusively an ‘outpatient clinic.’ This decision is erroneous because of the direct link between the first phase outpatient facility and the second phase inpatient facility.” He adds that inpatient facilities are not a permitted use in this project’s district.

Bilow wrote that the city should follow the C-2 status because it requires “substantial discretion and involves broad public interest.”

He writes, “only after classifying this application under SMC Title 20 as a Type C-2 process should the Director then proceed to examine whether the described use is a permitted, conditional, or other use described in SMC zoning Title 18. The director’s action is premature, as is his legal analysis of various interpretations of zoning laws.”

“There truly is no manner by which one can argue that this application has limited public interest as opposed to broad public interest,” Bilow writes.

MacMahon Law Group wrote that they aren’t asking for the project to be denied but review it in the correct process to evaluate “any potential impacts and taking the appropriate steps to minimize the impact on the health, safety and welfare of the public.”

They add that the C-2 process does not restrict the city from permitting the placement of the MAT clinic. To the contrary, they authorize the city to grant a special use permit for precisely such a use after undergoing the analysis to mitigate any impact on the health, safety, and welfare of the public.”

Spence writes that “SOS is not categorically opposed to the sitting of a drug rehabilitation facility serving the local community somewhere in the Sequim area, however SOS believes that the proposed location for a regional drug rehabilitation facility is in appropriate in this location …”

For more information about the MAT application, contact the City of Sequim at 360-683-4908.

For more information about the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s project, visit www.jamestownhealingcampus.org.

For more information about arguments against the clinic, visit www.saveoursequim.org.

For more information about arguments for the clinic, visit www.facebook.com/groups/SequimStabilization.

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Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].

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