SEQUIM — Work on the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s proposed medication-assisted treatment facility’s application with the city of Sequim is on hold until at least this coming Thursday.
That’s when Sequim City Council members will meet in a special work session at 3 p.m. in the council chambers at 152 W. Cedar St. An executive session is planned.
Council members agreed to a special meeting at the end of their regular meeting on Monday and scheduled it via email through city staff late Wednesday. The Jamestown S’Klallam tribe filed the application with the city late Friday.
Barry Berezowsky, director of community development, said he met with Brent Simcosky, Jamestown’s director of health services, for about an hour on Friday to go over the application for submittal.
Sequim City Manager Charlie Bush said in an interview Wednesday that he made the decision to hold work on the application until council members meet. He said city staff have 28 days from the application filing on Jan. 10 to issue an application of determination.
Overall, city staffers have 120 days to process an application.
The approximately 17,000 square-foot medication-assisted treatment (MAT) outpatient clinic would dispense daily doses of methadone, Suboxone and Vivitrol for opioid-use disorder and provide wrap-around services such as primary care health services, dental care and counseling services. If approved, tribal staff estimate construction for the MAT clinic from this June to December 2021.
The tribe received $7.2 million from the state’s capital budget application, and Simcosky estimates the tribe will invest $4 million of its own funds towards land and construction. The tribe purchased nearly 20 acres of land zoned for health care and other businesses on South Ninth Avenue in May 2018.
Tribal leaders said up to 250 patients — 120 are expected the first year — will be limited to Clallam and Jefferson county residents who have volunteered for the treatment.
A second phase of an inpatient psychiatric evaluation and treatment facility is not planned at this time because of uncertain funding.
To see the application, go to www.sequimwa.gov/471/Current-Projects.
New council member Troy Tenneson at Monday’s meeting sought a moratorium to halt the MAT application for 45 days to seek clarity on the process.
“It’s alarming this wasn’t on the discussion today since the tribe submitted their application on Friday,” he said.
Tenneson said he felt the application should go under Sequim Municipal Code’s (20.01) definition of a C-2 permitting process, “which involve applications that require the exercise of substantial discretion and about which there is a broad public interest.”
“I am concerned. That sentence to me in our own code, that’s plain English,” he said. “How it got interpreted otherwise is concerning.”
Bush said no determination on the permit process has been made but that it might fall under the A-2 process.
At previous meetings, city staff said because of the way the property is zoned on South Ninth Avenue in the Economic Opportunity Area for medical and business use, the property could comply with a use like the MAT clinic.
Tenneson said the number of people showing up to public forums and each council meeting “meets broad public interest.”
He added, “With that said, either the city staff that have made that decision have a shocking lack of knowledge of our code or there is something more sinister afoot.”
Tenneson proposed a moratorium to “investigate how our own code has or has not been followed” and “in respect to the tribe, we want to keep it as short as possible.”
Deputy Mayor Ted Miller said it was “perfectly legitimate to make a recommendation for a moratorium” but added that once “an application has already been received then a moratorium would not apply.”
Bush said moratoriums don’t apply to specific projects and those in the pipeline.
“Even when there’s an error in the decision-making process?” Tenneson asked.
“That’s what appeals are for,” Bush said. “If somebody has an issue with the process or how the process is used there are remedies in the code.”
“(I’m) making the case our own city code has not been followed,” Tenneson said. “That’s a pretty serious accusation and I’m not making it lightly … This could very well be litigation waters”
New council member Tom Ferrell said the soonest any kind of motion can be made is Jan. 27. No action is anticipated at the Jan. 23 work session.
“You don’t submit a proposal late on a Friday and expect it ready for an agenda on Monday morning,” Ferrell said.
Tribal officials said in an interview that their Jan. 10 meeting was scheduled two weeks in advance.
“There’s no sneaky business,” Simcosky said.
City staff required the tribe to do a traffic impact analysis, Simcosky said, which they fast-tracked and turned in the day before the meeting.
“We were ready to turn in the application in December,” he said.
Ferrell said he believes some options exist for council members to explore.
“If we meet like we want to do, I don’t think the city process is going to say too bad, here it is, you’re stuck with it,” he said. “I think there we have some flexibility … I understand your sense of urgency. If we meet in public and have a meeting that’s a win for tonight.”
Newly elected Mayor William Armacost said council members needed to meet again about the issue.
“When we have an opportunity to meet as a group and kick different ideas around and be proactive and be part of the solution is inevitable … The reality is we have to have this discussion as a group and then go forward from there,” he said.
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].