The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Council hears summary of shoreline program


The Cathlamet Town Council reviewed a proposed update for their Shoreline Management Program (SMP) when they met Monday.

The council also wrestled with biosolids issues, heard an appeal about water billing, approved exploration of using a town administrator, approved an ordinance for building requirements for a subdivision, set new rates for the municipal pool, and okayed a purchase plan for a fire engine.

In a workshop before the start of the council’s regular monthly meeting, the council and town planning heard a presentation about the proposed update of the town’s shoreline program.

Technical planning consultant Hannah Dankbar and Michelle McConnell, DOE regional shoreline planner, outlined the program, which is being updated in conjunction with Wahkiakum County.

The program keeps the 200-foot jurisdiction boundary of the existing plan, they said. Existing uses continue; new uses go through a permitting process. The plan creates a use category that is unique in the state, mixed waterfront, which allows a combination of residential and commercial use of the waterfront.

Council members indicated approval of the final draft of the program.

“I didn’t see anything detrimental to the future of the town in it,” said Mayor Dale Jacobson.

“This process has been very inclusive and gives local control to the town and gives people a chance to control the waterfront,” said Council Member Sue Cameron. “I think the process has been really well done.”

“I think it’s a good document and would like to support it,” said Council Member Andy Lea. “I like the work that has been done and say, ‘Carry on.’”

“The county and town entered this program three years ago in good faith,” said Council Member Dick Swart. “This is a good job. I think the future is looking very good.”

While the county and town have been working together under an interlocal agreement to update a combined shoreline program, each will need to approve it separately. County commissioners have been under pressure to make changes to their program, and last week, they suggested they may wait till August.

McConnell said the town could leave the interlocal agreement if it were ready to take action and the county wasn’t.

Once local government approves the updated program, it goes to the DOE for review. McConnell said that review would likely be just to clarify wording.

“It’s tricky to have two tracks,” she said. “We have to keep an eye on intent to have a joint document.”

The heavy, sustained wet season rains are causing problems at the wastewater treatment plant, Public Works Director Duncan Cruickshank reported.

The plant’s drying beds are full but aren’t drying the Class B biosolids well because of the rain, he said, and this is backing up disposal. The biosolids are hauled to farm sites which are approved for their application.

“We are going to be testing both a digester and our drying beds to get them ready for offisite application,” Crucikshank reported. “We contemplate adding a piece of equipment.”

The equipment, he said, would be used to speed the drying.

The beds do work as planned when the sun shines, Cruickshank said.

There are no application sites in Wahkiakum County, and the cost of hauling outside the county is several times higher than it would be inside the county.

The extra disposal costs and drying trouble bothered some officials.

“I think we should seek legal advice,” said Mayor Jacobson. “That engineering company failed us.”

“I agree,” Lea said.

In other business, property owners Walt and Carol Geil appealed for a change in billing for water on rental property they own South Second Street because of incompatible ordinances.

The property was originally a house with an adjacent empty lot. Later a garage was built on the lot, and still later, an efficiency apartment was created on the top of the garage.

Both house and apartment are served by one water line, but town billing clerks recently pointed out the water ordinance mandates a separate bill for each living unit.

Carol Geil pointed to another ordinance regarding apartments which said subsequent units should be charged as .7 unit; therefore they should be billed for 1.7 units, not 2.0 units.

Town Attorney Heidi Heywood reviewed definitions in the two ordinances and commented that “reasonable minds could differ” in interpreting them.

“You’ve made a good case,” Jacobson said. “The ordinances need to be rewritten so there’s more clarity. Let’s defer action till we get some clarity.”

The council authorized staff to explore the possibility of hiring an administrator/manager to direct town operations.

The manager would work under the mayor in either a full-time or part-time position.

The arrangement with the manager working under the mayor is a happy medium between having a council and strong mayor or having a council and council/manager arrangement, said Cameron, who has taken the lead in researching the issue.

Cameron added that the budget has funds for the position, and she promised to to provide more detailed information in the future.

In other business:

--The council approved for its first reading a proposed ordinance setting up requirements for off street parking and minimum setbacks on lots for Phase 2 of the Columbia Ridge Estates Subdivision.

The council had set up a moratorium on building permits because the amount of on-street parking in an adjacent portion of the subdivision hampered emergency services access. The proposed ordinance would provide adequate access and allow building to occur in the area.

--The council authorized fire department officials to skip bidding requirements and begin negotiations to purchase a demonstrator fire engine.

Chief Vernon Barton said one of the department’s engines is failing and has inadequate pumping capacity. The engine intended for purchase would be available in a couple months and cost around $385,000, while a new engine would take about a year to construct and cost at least $420,000.

The council has budgeted $100,000 for purchase of an engine. Fire department officers will negotiate a financing agreement and bring that to the council for final purchase approval.


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