Sequim city councilors plan to meet at 3 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, in the Sequim Civic Center to discuss options for the application for the proposed medication-assisted treatment facility. Councilor Troy Tenneson, right, proposed a moratorium on the development, but city staff said they can’t because the application was already filed. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Sequim city councilors plan to meet at 3 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, in the Sequim Civic Center to discuss options for the application for the proposed medication-assisted treatment facility. Councilor Troy Tenneson, right, proposed a moratorium on the development, but city staff said they can’t because the application was already filed. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

MAT application on hold for special city council work session

New councilor Tenneson seeks moratorium to review process

All work with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s proposed medication-assisted treatment (MAT) facility’s application with the City of Sequim is on hold until at least Thursday, Jan. 23.

That’s when Sequim city councilors will meet in a special work session at 3 p.m. in the council chambers at 152 W. Cedar St., with an executive session planned.

They agreed to a special meeting at the end of their regular meeting on Monday, Jan. 13, and scheduled the meeting via email through city staff late Wednesday, Jan. 15.

Sequim City Manager Charlie Bush said in an interview on Jan. 15 that he made the decision to hold work on the application until councilors meet. He said city staff have 28 days from the application filing on Jan. 10 to issue an application of determination.

Overall, city staffers have 120 days to process an application.

The approximate 17,000 square-feet outpatient clinic would dispense daily doses of methadone, Suboxone and Vivitrol for opioid-use disorder and provide wrap-around services such as primary care health services, dental care and counseling services.

Tribal leaders said up to 250 patients will be limited to Clallam and Jefferson county residents. A second phase of an inpatient psychiatric evaluation and treatment facility is not planned at this time because of uncertain funding.

New city councilor Troy Tenneson at the Jan. 13 meeting sought a moratorium to halt the MAT application for 45 days to seek clarity on the process.

“It’s alarming this wasn’t on the discussion today since the tribe submitted their application on Friday,” he said.

Tenneson said he felt the application should go under Sequim Municipal Code’s (20.01) definition of a C-2 permitting process, “which involve applications that require the exercise of substantial discretion and about which there is a broad public interest.”

“I am concerned. That sentence to me in our own code, that’s plain English,” he said. “How it got interpreted otherwise is concerning.”

Bush said no determination on the permit process has been made but it might fall under the A-2 process. The code states the A-2 application “involves an application that is subject to objective and subjective standards that require the exercise of limited discretion about non-technical issues and about which there may be a limited public interest.”

At previous meetings, city staff said because of the way the property is zoned on South Ninth Avenue in the Economic Opportunity Area for medical and business use, the property could comply with a use like the MAT clinic.

Tenneson said the number of people showing up to public forums and each city council meeting “meets broad public interest.”

He added, “With that said, either the city staff that have made that decision have a shocking lack of knowledge of our code or there is something more sinister afoot.”

Moratorium

Tenneson proposed a moratorium to “investigate how our own code has or has not been followed” and “in respect to the tribe, we want to keep it as short as possible.”

Deputy Mayor Ted Miller said it was “perfectly legitimate to make a recommendation for a moratorium” but added that once “an application has already been received then a moratorium would not apply.”

Bush said moratoriums don’t apply to specific projects and those in the pipeline.

“Even when there’s an error in the decision making process?” Tenneson asked.

“That’s what appeals are for,” Bush said. “If somebody has an issue with the process or how the process is used there are remedies in the code.”

“(I’m) making the case our own city code has not been followed,” Tenneson said. “That’s a pretty serious accusation and I’m not making it lightly … This could very well be litigation waters … So if not a moratorium, tell me the word we use as a council. I think a moratorium is appropriate.”

Miller instead suggested a working group session to discuss the MAT and other issues.

“There is legal issues the longer we wait,” Tenneson said. “The longer we wait, the more tenuous our legal position is. Right now, the application is in, so they have some vesting.

“This is why a lot of these people are here still. This is certainly one of the reasons why I am here.”

New city councilor Tom Ferrell said the soonest any kind of motion can be made is Jan. 27 at their next meeting.

No action is anticipated at the Jan. 23 work session.

“You don’t submit a proposal late on a Friday and expect it ready for an agenda on Monday morning,” Ferrell said. “It’s just not going to happen and that’s why some people submit it late on a Friday. I’m going to give them benefit of the doubt.”

Tribal officials said in an interview that their Jan. 10 meeting was scheduled two weeks in advance.

Ferrell said he believes some options exist for city councilors to explore.

“If we meet like we want to do, I don’t think the city process is going to say too bad here it is, you’re stuck with it,” he said. “I think there we have some flexibility … I understand your sense of urgency. If we meet in public and have a meeting that’s a win for tonight.”

Newly elected Mayor William Armacost said city councilors needed to meet again about the issue.

“When we have an opportunity to meet as a group and kick different ideas around and be proactive and be part of the solution is inevitable … The reality is we have to have this discussion as a group and then go forward from there,” he said.

For more information about the City of Sequim, visit 152 W. Cedar St., or call 360-683-4139. See the tribe’s MAT clinic application at www.sequimwa.gov/471/Current-Projects.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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