PORT ANGELES — A firm in Oregon has determined that a building permit should not yet be issued for a proposed 25,000-square-foot bed and breakfast as the county prepares to enter into mediation to resolve a federal lawsuit.
Clair Co. of Corvallis, Ore., finished the first plan review in April and has asked Judy Lee, who filed the lawsuit against the county, to respond in writing to 49 comments before a building permit can be issued.
In a letter to Lee, the company said it “does not recommend approval” for the submitted documents and that “all comments must be addressed prior to permit issuance.”
“They have to make some corrections to their plan to be approved for a building permit,” said David Alvarez, chief civil deputy prosecuting attorney.
“They are not eligible for the building permit because the plans are deficient.”
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma in December 2017, Lee of California alleges Clallam County Department of Community Development Director Mary Ellen Winborn has worked to thwart her plans to build her dream home — a 32,000 square-foot, four-story “bed and breakfast” that features five bedrooms and 27 bathrooms — along the banks of Sequim Bay.
She purchased 5 acres at 695 E. Sequim Bay Road in 2016 to “make her home into an attractive bed and breakfast to allow others to enjoy the area,” according to the lawsuit.
Winborn has determined that the building, which would be larger than the Quality Inn & Suites in Sequim and the Clallam County Public Utility District headquarters in Carlsborg, was actually a hotel and could not be built in that area.
Clallam County selected Clair Co. to review the application in October after the county and Lee agreed to have a third party review the application.
Winborn has protested this move and said she will not participate in that process.
She said since she walked out of a meeting she has not been updated on the lawsuit that has her name on it.
She said she didn’t agree with how the firm was selected.
“I’ve never seen anything handled so poorly,” she said.
Winborn learned of Claire Co.’s progress on the application and that mediation had been planned when she was provided county and court documents by the Peninsula Daily News.
“They are not giving me anything anymore,” Winborn said. “My name is just all over the lawsuit, that’s all. They are all figuring it out.”
Mediation is set for June 24 in Seattle.
The jury trial has been delayed again to June 8, 2020, with mediation required to be completed by April 2, 2020.
“We are hopeful a mediator will convince parties to come to a reasonable settlement,” Alvarez said.
The scope of the project appears to have changed. Documents said the building is now 25,000-square-feet instead of 32,000-square-feet. Site plans also show the driveway has been altered.
Clair Co. said the proposed building is about 2.5 feet taller than the 35-foot height limit, that rooms are not labeled correctly and that there are many other issues with the application that need to be addressed before a permit is issued.
While there are issues with the application, Claire Co. said the project fits within zoning regulations for the property.
“The proposed residence will clearly be a large home, but it will be residential in appearance and designed to function as one,” a memo from Clair Co. said.
“The proposed single-family residence and bed and breakfast appear to satisfy all of the relevant zoning and land development requirements in the Clallam County Code.”
Alvarez said he has not seen the new plans and that Clair Co. will issue the building permit on behalf of the county. He said after a building permit is issued, Lee will still need to have proof of potable water and have the septic system approved.
Winborn said plans that she has seen show a “high-rise building” that was covered in glass.
The Clair Co. memo said the building is designed to look like a large residence without the characteristics of a commercial building and will have no outdoor displays, storage or work areas.
The memo said that while having five guest rooms will create more traffic than what that area typically sees, guests tend to arrive, stay one or multiple nights, and they leave.
The Board of County Commissioners on June 10 will discuss whether to amend its contract with Clair Co. before taking action June 18.
The amendment increases the contract to $30,000, authorizes the company to bill for review related to the building code at $130 per hour and extends the term of the contract to Dec. 11.
The Washington Counties Risk Pool has agreed to pay the invoices from Clair Co.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].