After months of public discussions and rallies for and against, City of Sequim staff announced last Friday that they approved the proposed medication-assisted treatment (MAT) facility off South Ninth Avenue.
Inside the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s proposed 16,806-square-foot medical facility on 3.3 acres, doctors would dispense daily doses of methadone, Suboxone and Vivitrol for patients with opioid-use disorder and provide wrap-around services such as primary care, dental and childcare services.
Barry Berezowsky, Sequim’s Community Development director, approved the project on May 15 because he “found this project to be consistent with the standards for Design Review as set forth in SMC 18.24,” according to city documents.
Brent Simcosky, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s health services director, said the city’s decision is “very exciting.”
“It’s a big relief,” Simcosky said. “It’s been a long time coming. We feel the City of Sequim made the correct decision based on city and state laws. We’re excited to move to the final step.”
Jodi Wilke, chairman for Save Our Sequim (SOS), said the organization isn’t surprised by the city’s decision but is disappointed in the quality of work leading to that decision.
“It doesn’t change anything; it’s a non-decision,” Wilke said. “With these appeals out there, it has no meaning. It’s a check in the box.”
Sequim Senior Planner Tim Woolett said appeals can be made on the project’s approval and its Mitigated Determination of Non-significance (MDNS) within 21 days or by end of business, 4 p.m. on June 5.
Each appeal against the city’s decision costs $600 to file.
Each appeal will be heard before the city’s recently appointed hearing examiner Phil Olbrechts city officials say. So far, he’s slated to consider three appeals on city staff’s decision to classify the project as an A-2 process in which city staff — specifically, Berezowsky — review and approve the project opposed to a city council-made decision.
Pending legal action by Save Our Sequim and the owner of Parkwood Manufactured Homes is awaiting a hearing in Clallam County Superior Court that could hinder the application.
Wilke said they are awaiting word from the court system and aware of the June 5 deadline before moving forward with an appeal of the application.
Since the project was announced, a surge of interest grew in online community groups and gatherings at municipal meetings.
For the first comment period of the project’s application there were 1,025 comments with most opposed to the clinic in various ways, i.e. its location, size, and/or that there’s enough capacity for patients already. Another 64 comments were submitted on the MDNS process during its comment period, too.
Woolett said following protocol, there will be no further comment periods on the MAT application until appeals go to the hearing examiner.
In the application, Berezowsky wrote that “many concerns raised through the public comments were social issues that are outside the purview of this land use matter.”
He added that several comments on the MDNS raised concerns over land use issues such as traffic, stormwater, public safety and more and that city staff addressed many of these issues with conditions.
City staff set several conditions through the application the tribe must accommodate before and during construction. Some of those state the tribe must:
• Create a monitoring and evaluation program overseen by a Community Advisory Committee made up of health professionals, elected officials, public safety officers and more. They must make contingency plans when monitoring or evaluation indicates expectation and standards are not being met.
• Hire a social services navigator to provide social service assistance to patients and other persons in need of Substance Use Disorder assistance and mental health assistance in the city; patients who choose to leave the program are reported to the navigator for intervention and/or assistance in transitioning to another program.
• Develop a plan acceptable to the city regarding ramping up patient care during the first year of the clinic’s operation.
• All patients must be pre-screened before treatment.
• Accommodate patients only inside the facility with no loitering allowed.
• Hire full-time, on-site security.
• Distribute direct access information/complaint line provided to all adjacent property owners within 300 feet of the property.
• Install a fence at a mutually agreeable location out of mutually agreeable materials between the clinic and the Shaw family farm.
• Protect the one Garry oak tree on site and if it does not survive, three replacements must be planted.
Simcosky said they’re “bending backwards” to accommodate the city’s conditions.
“We’ve agreed to a lot of things that we wouldn’t have to normally,” he said. “But we want to do those things because we want to be safe.”
As for the appeals process through a hearing examiner, Simcosky said they’re OK with it and if the application is approved he anticipates breaking ground in August.
“We’re not that far behind in the process because we thought we’d be breaking ground around now,” Simcosky said. “With (COVID-19), we thought we’d break ground in a few more months.”
Partly because of COVID-19 pandemic, community members and SOS members asked city staff to delay or extend comments on the environmental review application, but Berezowsky replied that he didn’t have the authority to do so because of the defined comment period of time for the MDNS.
City Manager Charlie Bush spoke with Jamestown’s Tribal Chairman W. Ron Allen about a 90-day delay in processing the application but the tribe opted to continue on.
Allen said in a phone interview that the tribe has “gone through extensive measures to communicate with the public and the city” and that it doesn’t need to be delayed further. He added that delaying it further could add to construction costs.
For more information on the application, visit www.sequimwa.gov/471/Current-Projects or call 360-683-4139.