Earlier this month, members of Save Our Sequim (SOS) and Jon Gibson, owner of Parkwood Manufactured Housing Community near Carlsborg, filed an injunction action against the City of Sequim to stop the processing of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s proposed medication-assisted treatment (MAT) facility.
The Complaint for Declaratory, Injunctive and Mandamus Relief was filed May 5 in Clallam County Superior Court.
SOS members and Gibson seek the following:
• A declaration that the city acted improperly with the project’s classification as an A-2 staff reviewed process rather than C-2, a quasi-judicial review because it’s an “essential facility”
• A declaration that waiting for an appeal on the project’s classification at the end of the application process takes too long and wastes time and resources
• A declaration that the city’s provisions for the process are unconstitutionally vague and overbroad delegating authority to Barry Berezowsky, Sequim director of Community Development
• Prohibit the application from continuing
• Place a moratorium on all land use decisions under Sequim Municipal Code Title 20 until the code is revised
• Plaintiffs recover attorneys’ fees
Sequim City Attorney Kristina Nelson-Gross said the city has 20 days, or until May 25 to respond and that “we will address it in accordance with usual processes with litigation.”
Berezowsky issued his approval for the 16,806-square-foot MAT facility on May 15, and community members have until June 5 to file an appeal of his decision.
SOS chair Jodi Wilke said that despite the city approving the application, their legal action won’t be amended and they are awaiting guidance from the court system before filing another appeal.
“We’re going to wait and see what the court has to say,” she said.
Gibson, a California resident and owner of Parkwood for about 20 years, said the city codes are vague and confusing and he feels they’ve been implied inconsistently by city staff.
He said he’s unsure of the potential impact of the MAT on Parkwood, a retirement community for more than 300 residents aged 55-and-over.
“I’m concerned for the health, safety and welfare of our community,” Gibson said.
“If we assume the staff wants to do the right thing, we need to help them by cleaning up the code.”
Wilke said SOS has been fundraising and researching the lawsuit for some time and recognizes that “it would have been better to file sooner.”
She said part of the suit challenges the city’s methodology.
“They won’t hear appeals until after the application is done,” Wilke said. “That’s putting the cart before the horse. If you disagree with that decision you have no recourse at all. It could be 120 days down the road. That’s not a speedy trial. How is that constitutional?”
Gibson said he and SOS are funding the legal work separately but filed it together. He said he is not a member of SOS but has been following the MAT discussion since it was announced.
“Hearing some of (SOS’s) information, it’s obvious to us there is a significant number of people involved from various walks of life, like professionals, who started to raise some serious questions,” Gibson said.
“Unfortunately, with so much of what’s going on, all the facts are not seeing the light of day.
The truth loves light. That’s part of what we want to do. We want to make sure everything is crystal clear.”
Wilke said when the tribe sought grant funding the landscape might have been different for opioid treatment in the area but she believes it’s since changed and the Olympic Peninsula is better equipped to handle patients.
“Their entire business plan migrates people into Sequim for this care that aren’t connected to this community,” she said.
However, Wilke said she “never wants to overgeneralize people” and that SOS is not against people getting the help they need for addiction.
“We also don’t want the community negatively impacted in the process,” she said. “There’re many ways (the MAT) will negatively impact the community.”
For more information about Save Our Sequim, visit www.saveoursequim.org.
Read the MAT application at www.sequimwa.gov/471/Current-Projects.