Frustration continues with slow progress for sand placement
March 2, 2017
Donald Trump to the rescue?
Frustrated by the slow pace of bureaucracy, local residents and officials are looking for help in all places in their quest to establish a beach nourishment program at Cape Horn and on Puget Island.
The permitting process has made some progress; last week the county planning department recommended approval of the county's own shoreline management conditional use permit for the project, and on Tuesday, the board of commissioners quickly gave their approval.
However, Commissioner Dan Cothren could report no progress on the right-of-entry easement permits which landowners must sign to give dredge crews to access their shorelines.
The US Army Corps of Engineers had presented one version of the easements last year, and some landowners had signed them. However, others objected to language in the permits which they feared would give dredge crews authority to go anywhere on a property, and county officials have proposed revisions to alleviate that concern.
The latest version has gone back to the Seattle office of the Corps, and local residents and officials have been waiting weeks for the Corps to give final approval.
Cothren said he had enlisted the aid of Deena Horton, US Senator Maria Cantwell's regional representative, to expedite the Corps approval, but Horton had reported the Seattle office was undergoing remodeling and wasn't able to act quickly.
"This is what you deal with when you deal with the Corps," Cothren said. "They're doing remodeling in their office. I don't buy that."
Cothren also said he plans to meet with representatives of upriver ports who operate the dredges and who want the county to approve a permit to allow them to dispose of dredge spoils on an inland site on Puget Island.
There are a lot of entities involved in dredging programs, Cothren said, and "they all want something and we can't get anything."
"Maybe we're not going high enough," said Puget Island resident J.B. Robinson, referring to commissioners seeking assistance from federal representatives. "Send a letter to Mr. Trump."
Cothren liked the suggestion. President Trump has said he wants to rein in the federal permitting agencies, and that might help.
Commissioner Mike Backman suggested that if there's not action soon, he would be happy to take a group of residents to the Corps offices for a visit.
"If that doesn't work, let's go to their offices so they notice us," he said.