Judge dismisses restraining order case against MAT clinic

Tribe’s own appeal could hold up potential construction

Following a June decision to deny a temporary restraining order and injunction for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s proposed medication-assisted treatment (MAT) clinic, Clallam County Superior Court Judge Brent Basden permanently dismissed the request on July 17 in Clallam County Superior Court.

Tribe attorneys LeAnne Bremer and Andy Murphy of Miller Nash Graham & Dunn requested the dismissal because Basden wrote in his previous ruling that appealing the application “(falls) squarely within the types of decisions covered by (the Land Use Petition Act (LUPA)),” and that the plaintiffs “haven’t exhausted the city’s review processes.”

The decision is another proverbial hurdle cleared for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s proposed MAT clinic, but the project still awaits a possible decision from a hearings examiner expected in August along with possible appeals through the LUPA process.

Representatives with Save Our Sequim (SOS) and Jon Gibson, owner of Parkwood Manufactured Housing Community, filed an injunction on May 5 to halt construction and the application for the proposed 16,806-square-foot facility that treats patients with Opioid Use Disorder.

SOS attorney Michael A. Spence and Michael McLaughlin, Gibson’s attorney, stated previously that the city wrongfully placed the clinic under an A-2 process — under which city staff approves the project — instead of a quasi-judicial, C-2 city council-made decision.

The attorneys also stated other issues with the proposal including that it should be classified as an “essential public facility” and holds “broad public interest.”

Project on hold

Barry Berezowsky, Sequim’s director of community development, said the city issued the tribe a building permit on June 29 for the MAT clinic.

However, when and if the tribe can build the clinic depends on Phil Olbrechts, the city’s contracted hearing examiner.

In addition, the tribe’s appeal to their own project means they cannot break ground on the project.

Berezowsky said that because the tribe is appealing the city’s conditions regarding a Mitigated Determination of Non-significance (MDNS) environmental review, “they can’t start until those issues are resolved.”

In the appeal, Murphy wrote that some of the tribe’s complaints state there is no evidence the clinic will cause adverse environmental impacts to public services, that community concern is not an environmental impact, and the city’s land use authority doesn’t include clinic operations.

In this process, construction could have begun after the tribe’s contractors received the site construction permit approval and building permit, Berezowsky said, but he’s unsure if the site construction review will be issued until after the hearing examiner process.

A pre-hearing meeting with Olbrechts and stakeholders to potentially resolve issues hasn’t been set yet, but Berezowsky said it could tentatively happen in August.

If no resolutions are made, a hearing date would be set afterward for the six appeals made against the MAT clinic application.

Brent Simcosky, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s health services director, said they applied and received a permit to take down a barn on the property because some individuals had broken in to live there.

Tribal officials are also awaiting an invoice from the city for the clinic’s impact fees and general facility charges, which Berezowsky estimates to be in six figures but that no firm number has been set.

Request denied

For their relief request, Spence and McLaughlin asked Basden to deny the dismissal and grant a temporary restraining order until appeals against the clinic are resolved.

They asserted that a July 10 letter from Murphy admits he erred in saying all permits were stayed, or on hold, for the project, and that City of Sequim attorney Kristina Nelson-Gross didn’t refute it.

In his letter, Murphy said his statement was incorrect about permits issued being on hold, and he doesn’t feel the error influenced Basden’s decision.

In the city’s response, Nelson-Gross wrote that the court already determined the plaintiff’s claims must go to LUPA because “(it) provides the exclusive remedy for plaintiff’s claims and essentially pre-empts alternative remedies.”

The tribe’s attorneys wrote that a Temporary Restraining Order and Injunction are incorrect because they fall under LUPA and are “no immediate invasion of these rights given that they are subject to review.”

The attorneys added that the plaintiffs didn’t establish prerequisites for an injunction.

In June, Basden cited the Land Use Petition Act: “A judicial review at this time is premature because a final determination has not been made ‘by a local jurisdiction’s body or office of the highest level of authority to make that determination.’”

He wrote that the plaintiffs will be able to argue their challenges before the city’s hearing examiner.