Central Samish Valley Neighbors are organizing a community meeting at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, March 29th, at the Samish Elementary School (23953 Prairie Rd). “The purpose of the meeting is to update the community on the current situation and discuss our next steps to ensure the County continues to address our concerns. We have invited representatives of Skagit County Planning & Development Services and Concrete Nor’West to participate in the discussion, which will be moderated by an independent facilitator,” Kathy Reim said, a spokesperson for the group.
See the group’s full press release below:
County Puts Gravel Mine Project on Hold after Receiving More than 100 Public Comments
Community group will hold a public meeting on March 29 to discuss next steps to ensure the County continues to address its concerns
March 23, 2017 – Skagit County Planning & Development Services has put a hold on a proposed new gravel mine, asking the developer, Concrete Nor’West, to update its permit application documents after numerous problems were discovered.
The proposed gravel pit near Grip Road and Prairie Road has met strong resistance in the local community, which has formed a group called Central Samish Valley Neighbors. More than 100 public comments have been submitted, highlighting road safety problems, environmental issues and quality of life concerns, among others.
“There is very deep concern in our community that the proposed gravel mine and everything associated with it—heavy truck traffic, noisy operations, environmental degradation, etc.—will seriously impact our quality of life,” said Kathy Reim, a spokesperson for the Central Samish Valley Neighbors.
In a letter to Central Samish Valley Neighbors, the Skagit County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Julie Nicholl wrote: “Since there are numerous factual discrepancies in Concrete Nor’West’s Application, Project Description, SEPA Checklist, Traffic Study and Fish & Wildlife Site Assessment, we asked Concrete Nor’West to update these materials to include the requested supplemental information and to ensure consistency with their current project plans.”
“We are very pleased to see that the County is now taking a close look at the documentation and the project’s potential impact on our community,” Reim said. “However, the County’s decision to put a hold on the project does not in itself fundamentally change anything. It just changes the timeline. We will now have more time to make sure that the entire community is aware of this project, how it might affect our community and how we can make our concerns heard in a constructive manner.”
Many longtime residents of the Samish Valley have been disappointed in the County’s handling of the permit application. “Initially the County did not have a problem with the categorization of the gravel mine as ‘medium land-use intensity’, the same category as a hobby farm but less intense land use than a golf course or baseball field, which is absurd,” said Linda Walsh, whose property is situated directly across the river from the proposed mine site. “It was only after concerned citizens spent countless hours reading through the documents and submitting comments that all these discrepancies in the application documents came to light,” she noted.
The mistakes were not limited to the project documentation. Ahead of the first hearing on the special use permit in December, notifications were only sent to the owners of 8 parcels in the immediate vicinity of the proposed mine. The County later recognized that this was insufficient.
After receiving the updated materials from Concrete Nor’West, the County will issue a Revised SEPA Determination for public comment. The County’s Staff Report for the Special Use Permit will also be revised and published for public comment and hearing.
Central Samish Valley Neighbors are organizing a community meeting at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, March 29th, at the Samish Elementary School (23953 Prairie Rd). “The purpose of the meeting is to update the community on the current situation and discuss our next steps to ensure the County continues to address our concerns. We have invited representatives of Skagit County Planning & Development Services and Concrete Nor’West to participate in the discussion, which will be moderated by an independent facilitator,” Kathy Reim said.
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About Central Samish Valley Neighbors
Our mission is to protect the safety, environment and quality of life in the Central Samish Valley from possible negative impacts of the proposed Concrete Nor’West Gravel mine. In January 2017, our group held a community meeting at the Hoogdal Community Center that was attended by more than 70 concerned citizens. More information can be found on Central Samish Valley Neighbors’ website and Facebook page. We are raising funds to cover costs, including but not limited to a professional review of traffic & road safety report, legal advice and community outreach efforts. Donations can be made through a dedicated GoFundMe campaign.
About the proposed mine
Location: The 68-acre open pit gravel mine is proposed by Concrete Nor’West between Grip and Prairie Roads. It is located just a few hundred feet from the Samish River, with a 2-mile haul road crossing Swede Creek and entering Grip Road at the top of the hill.
Excavation volume: The estimated volume of material to be excavated at the mine is 4.2 million cubic yards, more than enough material to fill Safeco Field to the roof. If the neighboring properties owned by Concrete Nor’West are later developed through expansion of the mine, the final excavation volume could reach as much as 8 times the currently announced volume.
Impact on property values: Economic studies have demonstrated a direct link between gravel mine development and a reduction of property values in neighboring and adjacent areas. According to Professor Diane Hite of Auburn University, synthesis of published studies shows that the value reduction associated with a distance of one-quarter mile from a gravel pit is 25% and a distance of one-half mile is 18%. Even properties 2-3 miles away see a value loss of 5-7%. The lowest estimates of the total property equity loss in the Central Samish Valley are in the range of $15-20 million.