Proposed waste transfer station worries neighbors

When friends visit Debra and James Grigg at their home on Viking Avenue, they almost always make the same observation.

"When someone comes over to the house they say, 'This is a piece of the country right in the city,' " Debra Grigg said.

She and her husband are appealing a proposed city waste transfer station and public works yard planned for neighboring property, which they say will threaten the quality of their home. The Griggs contend project plans don't adequately mitigate the effects of noise, artificial light and odor that will be caused by the waste station and mechanical bay. Their appeal will come before the hearing examiner today.

The City of Poulsbo maintains its plans for a transfer station and yard not only meet required code, but go above and beyond to ease development impacts on the Griggs' property.

Because the area was zoned as industrial in 1993, the Griggs have had ample time to "observe the gradual transition of the neighborhood to industrial-type uses, and to make accommodations if they did not want to live next to such development in the future," wrote city Planning Director Barry Berezowsky in a planning document.

City Public Works Director Barry Loveless said the city has taken extra measures to accommodate the Griggs' requests, but some conditions, such as extended buffers, would use up too much land.

"It makes less of the property usable," Loveless said.

Site plans call for the transfer station to be placed as far from the Griggs' property as possible; for an eight-foot fence along their property line instead of a six-foot fence; and for a temporary 10-foot buffer to be added near their land to an existing 10-foot buffer, which would remain until either the Griggs moved or the city proceeded with the later phases of its development.

In their appeal, the Griggs are asking for the additional protection of a berm, or dirt bank, as well as a fence to be constructed between their property and the city's.

The project site is south of their home, visible from their dining room window.

James Grigg bought his 1.38 acres in 1980, when the land was zoned for rural residential use. His property and much of the surrounding parcels were zoned for light industrial use by Kitsap County in 1993, then annexed into the city in 2003.

Debra Grigg's three kids were raised in the home, and would search for "treasures," often old glass Coke bottles, on vacant neighboring land. The Griggs have a workshop and a hot tub on their property. Both 59, they realize zoning requirements mean their land won't be used residentially if sold in the future, but they have no plans to leave the home they've made.

"We aren't planning on moving, this is where we're going to live," Debra Grigg said. "We're not asking for much."

They've paid more than $3,000 to the city in appeal fees, as well as fees to their attorney, Debra Grigg said.

The Griggs' attorney William Broughton said there is an inherent conflict of interest when a city regulates its own land use. There are requirements typically made of private developers that haven't been required of the city, he said. He also questions whether waste handling coincides with intended land use.

"It seems to the Griggs and to me that they (the city) are bending the rules here, showing themselves favoritism," he said.

The city purchased the 4.8-acre parcel at 22125 Viking Way in August 2008 for $1.05 million. The Poulsbo City Council was split on the decision. Because the city didn't have immediate or concrete plans to build on the site, some council members called the city's capital spending into question.

The land was primarily paid for by Public Works funds.

At the time of the purchase, then-mayor Kathryn Quade said the land was one of only a few acceptable parcels in the area, better-suited for the various vehicles and equipment associated with a Public Works yard than the department's current home at the corner of Iverson Street and Eighth Avenue, across from the Poulsbo Library.

The city agreed with the Suquamish Tribe in 2006 to move its Public Works yard from that location, which sits in the floodplain of Dogfish Creek, by 2012 as part of an effort to restore the creek.

Loveless said the yard won't be fully relocated until 2015, with the majority of construction at the Viking Avenue site beginning in 2013. The transfer station would be constructed before then, over the next two years.

The city must first demolish an existing house on the site and clear and grade the land, according to site plans.

Employee vehicles and garbage trucks are expected to total 18 trips to and from the site per day, planning documents state. The transfer station is expected to generate some odor, but not enough to reach nearby properties, the city wrote.

It will allow the city's four garbage trucks to consolidate their waste loads instead of driving to Belfair each time their bins are full.

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