Depee Development Remains Under Appeal

Here is the Cliff Notes Version. The complete version will run in the Kitsap Sun Friday. Here’s a bird’s eye view of Lake Emelia. (give it a little time for the map to load)

Neighbors say their concerns have not been addressed.
By Chris Henry
A proposed development near Lake Emelia remains the subject of an ongoing appeal by neighbors despite a Jan. 14 ruling by the Kitsap County Hearing Examiner in favor of the plan.

The project, owned by South Kitsap real estate investor Fred Depee, would place 102 single family homes on 28 acres at the corner of Baker and Phillips roads in South Kitsap.

Ryan Vancil, the neighbors’ attorney, said today his clients will present their objections to the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners.

Neighbors Bill Simmons and Peter Boorman, in their original appeal this summer, contended that stormwater runoff from the property would flow into the lake. They also said the developer’s application didn’t do enough to protect area wildlife, and they asked for a better visual buffer between the development and current residents’ homes.

Then-hearing examiner Stephen K. Causseaux, in response to the neighbors’ concerns, ordered county staff to take a second look at the plan. Specifically he called for a review of conflicting evidence about a possible groundwater connection between the proposed storm drainage pond and Lake Emelia.

In an “amended supplemental decision,” issued Jan. 14, Causseaux noted that changes made to the storm drainage plan met the criteria for preliminary plat approval. He dismissed the appeal, moving the application forward to the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners with a recommendation for approval.

The neighbors will appeal the plan before the board, Vancil said. The hearing before the board is not yet scheduled.

Simmons said the neighbors remain concerned about stormwater run-off from the development and pollution which could be introducted to the lake through underground water.
Depee said the drainage issue was thoroughly investigated by the state Department of Ecology, and county staff including a certified hydrologist and environmental specialist. Depee said he will go to extra lengths in engineering the stormwater system to accommodate overflow and control flooding.

Vancil and his clients question the process by which the appeal was handled and contend that Depee’s status as a member of the county’s planning commission calls into question the appearance of fairness.

Depee has previously defended his presence on the commission saying he has stepped down during any decision in which he has a vested interest.

Depee said he is only following zoning regulations that went into effect with the state’s Growth Managment Act in 1996, at which time the Phillips Road area was slated to accommodate growth. He mentioned several other developments in the works in the area, including a 38-home development on property he owns.

“I can understand their concerns,” said Depee. “Everyone fights growth. They’re afraid their rural living is being effected. But it’s not me who put the zoning in.

“I am a third generation Kitsap County resident. If I had my choice, all of Kitsap would look, and be like it was in the ’60’s and ’70’s when I was growing up. The powers to be, and time, have dictated the change to what it is and I make a living on these changes.”

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