Owen: high school appeal meets its end

KINGSTON — The man recently scrutinized by police for his adult Web site business activities may have given the final green light to the North Kitsap School District to build a new high school in Kingston.

Jeff Owen, neighbor to the NKSD’s chosen property for the 800-student school set to open in 2007, will not take his and fellow neighbor Terry Patterson’s appeal of a key county permit needed to build the school to the state’s court of appeals. The deadline to do so is May 16.

“We’ve done the best we can,” said Owen, who had his first two appeals struck down by the Kitsap County Commissioners last year and by the Kitsap Superior Court in April. “The parents are going to have to make the decision. It’s their kids.”

The centerpiece of Owen’s appeal were environmental concerns, with the school being built on land adjacent to the former Nike missile site, used during the Cold War for anti-aircraft defense. He is still adamant that testing by a school district-hired private firm, Kane, the federal Environmental Protection Agency, and the state Department of Health was not sufficient in uncovering possible health risks the site may pose to future students. The three agencies that performed the studies were consistent in stating that they’d found “no contaminants of concern.”

Owen had earlier reported he’d spent “thousands of dollars,” in attorney’s fees to appeal the district’s Conditional Use Permit twice. He also said that due to the constrictions of the case, not all evidence was admissible in court, such as the final EPA report. That was his primary rationale for not appealing to the higher court.

“We can’t (appeal) because we’ve been told whatever the (superior) court takes in, that’s all appeals judge can take in,” Owen said. “And the only thing that was allowed into evidence was the unfinished EPA report and the (private) Kane report.”

To make matters worse for Owen, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office recently investigated his business, a web site that sells certain kinds of pornography that he films on the Kingston property. The school district had put in a call to the KCSO after learning of his activities, which may be found in violation of county code should his property be less than 1,000 feet from a school — in this case, Spectrum, NKSD’s alternative high school, housed in the former Nike site’s barracks.

The case was forwarded to the county’s prosecutor’s office, but as of Thursday, Owen has not from that office. He has also ceased all filming and production of the web site at his Kingston location.

Despite the recent attention, Owen remains positive. He was also complimentary of the police that searched his home.

“The cops were totally decent and respectful,” he said, “and I have no complaint whatsoever with that regard.”

He said he’s also been impressed with the people who’ve supported him through both his appeal and the investigation of his home.

“We’ve had an amazing amount of people coming to us, saying, ‘We can’t agree with what you’re doing, but we support your fight,’” he said. “We were expecting a major backlash but they value my right to be different.”

He had even been planning his own investigation of the Nike site, having rounded up a cadre of professionals from the area to help, he said. But the district would not return his pleas to do so, and he’s given up that effort.

“We’ve heard nothing back from them,” he said. “I just told the team to stand down — which is a damn shame because we could’ve gotten it (done) for free.”

The school district isn’t commenting on the matter.

Clearing and grading of the site will begin in July before construction is slated to start. Owen said he still thinks that the district has left the site safety to chance, despite the recent studies.

“For the parents,” Owen said, “I hope we’re wrong.”

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