Submitted by Save Our City- DuPont, WA.
DuPont is updating our Critical Area Ordinance. State law requires cities to follow best available science practices when creating these sensitive area laws. Several sections of our proposed changes violate this state law. Bad city ordinances make us vulnerable to lawsuits, costly appeals, and unhealthy growth.
Perry Lund (Unit Manager, Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program, Department of Ecology) wrote to our director of economic development, Jeff Wilson. They have sent the city multiple letters over the past two years. They have tried to warn Mr. Wilson that our new buffer and wetlands rules are not in compliance.
In Mr. Lund’s letter, he states that the city is not following best available science, which is required by the Growth Management Act (GMA). Cities have some flexibility, but they must protect critical area functions. And they must provide evidence. DuPont may not have extra staff. But Mr. Lund says the state has always been available with free advice to help interpret science—if the city would consult them. (This would have prevented the ARCO gas station fiasco.)
Mr. Wilson’s response to Mr. Lund minimizes the importance of best available science. Mr. Wilson states he is following “the spirit and intent.” (Imagine if a brain surgeon, biologist or bridge engineer used that kind of unscientific rationale in their work product.)
We were told at the November public hearing that 300 ft. buffers for our natural wetlands “would render the majority of DuPont’s residential community as non-conforming [blocking home improvement or maintenance] citizens of DuPont may undertake…”
Mr. Lund had already told Mr. Wilson that this is not true.
The letter from the Department of Ecology informs Mr. Wilson that he is wrong. Existing development is typically “grandfathered.” The best available science buffer rules won’t be applied to our homes and residential neighborhoods. Only to new development—such as the enormous ARCO gas station that tried to illegally build on the wetland buffer. Following state law will not slow down business growth. Only bad growth.
Good buffers protect the few rare, undisturbed natural areas within DuPont, such as Bell Marsh and Edmund Marsh while still allowing development on our industrial land near the Amazon area.
The definition of best available science in the proposed CAO states: “means current scientific information used in the process to designate, protect or restore critical areas that is derived from a valid scientific process as defined by WAC 365-195-900.”
Please write our council members and ask them to protect our green areas, based on our own Comprehensive Plan’s guidelines:
- “The City should continue to use best available science (BAS) to protect the aquifer, including promoting water conservation, education, and landscape standards.” DuPont Comprehensive Plan, Capital Facilities and Utilities Goals and Policies, Goal 1.15
- “Exercise responsible environmental stewardship by considering long range implications of the city policies on the environment, and directing development towards areas of the City where natural systems and amenities present the fewest environmental constraints.” DuPont Comprehensive Plan, Natural Environment Goals and Policies, Goal 2
Better yet, write your council members AND join us on Tuesday, December 11, at 7pm. at the City Council meeting.