Commercial Trucking on Residential Property

please take the time to read the following article. there is also a link below to the website if you would like to leave a comment. the article is very well written and informative. this is important to my family since my brother is one of the property owners that is directly affected by the noise, construction, pollution, and his well water is obviously not being protected as you'll see from the below article. Cowden gets around everything since he's a good ole boy. i added in my comments in the red.

Cowden Gravel gets ahead of permitting process Will commercial trucking be allowed across residential areas? Sheri Ward - Whatcom Independent

KENDALL – Neighbors of a bridge and access road to a gravel pit east of Kendall have raised objections that the bridge violates the county’s Critical Areas Ordinance and use of the access road would violate local residential covenants. (hello it VIOLATES Covenants!!)

Steve Cowden, owner of Cowden Gravel and Ready Mix, has built a bridge across a stream off Mt. Baker Highway approximately a mile east of Kendall and sought an easement for a road across residential property owned by relatives of his so that he may access a gravel pit he owns. He said, “For now I’m just accessing my own property. Then we’ll be applying for a permit.” (seems odd that Cowden owns the pit BUT his relatives own the property?? i bet if the IRS looked into his business, they'd find some interesting stuff. b/c he owns a gravel pit, he has more rights then the residents who live there and drink the water??? i know, he's a good ole boy, they don't need to obtain stinkin permits)

Neighboring resident Bill Velacich is concerned that permitting and prescribed mitigations are not being followed properly. He said Cowden routinely ignores such requirements. As an example, the permit for Cowden’s gravel pit requires written documentation of steps taken to protect ground water. Velacich said he was concerned about possible effects on his drinking water and inquired of county planning staff if that documentation had ever been submitted. As of last Friday, their response was that it had not and they did not provide him with any further explanation. (why oh why doesn't Cowden have to have permits or prove EPA requirements??)

For approximately the past seven years, Cowden has had access to his gravel pit through an arrangement with Ferndale Sand and Gravel, which owns an adjoining property. The access has been exclusively for wholesale use, not retail. Neighbors allege Cowden is seeking a new access route so he can retail from the site, a change that is unwelcome among residents because of the likely increased traffic. (hmmm sounds like a money maker for Cowden and how nice for him the county is going to ignore all laws and permits. i wish i had that MANY FRIENDS in high places so i could destroy homeowners property/water/equity and not have any complications from it AND make money! were do i get that deal?)

Concern about this project has been on-going since 2001, when the permit for Cowden’s gravel pit was granted. Even at the time, it was apparent Cowden tended to let the work get ahead of the permitting process. In the findings of fact for the permit, it states, “A small excavation exists in the center of the subject area resulting from unpermitted activity that led to enforcement action which led to the application for this permit.” (from the beginning he breaks the rules and gets nothing but rewards -- not fines or retribution)

Photos taken at the time of constructing the bridge during the early fall of 2006 show the footer below the ordinary high water mark (OHWM), which would be in violation of the Critical Areas Ordinance. According to Velacich, the footer on one side of the stream was clearly above the OHWM, and was extensively documented in the county planning department’s files; the other side was more questionable and was more difficult to find in official documents. (i wonder why it's "hard to find" now)

Russ Mullins of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said that judging the location of the OHWM is subjective and is based on photos and evaluations on the ground. He indicated there was some rush to complete the work on the bridge before the rainy season started. Mullins said, “Administrative things weren’t taken care of how they should have been by Cowden, but we felt it was better to work with the contractor rather than just shut him down.” He indicated that since some of the work was already in progress, not doing so would have left a big hole. “We were trying to make things right for the fish, and I think it worked out OK.” (they admit the admin side wasn't taken care of but they worked with the contractor?? i don't see any result of the contractor working for the Dept of Fish..but maybe they're friends with Cowden. i know i'd be shut down so fast with fines if i was trying to put in a road for "non-commercial" reasons that lead to my gravel pit)

County Planning Director David Stahlheim said, “What I saw was that it was awfully close to the high water mark, but it’s not within it.” Of the photos, he acknowledged, “It looked kind of strange…it doesn’t look like that when you’re out in the field. There’s no measurement – you just look at where the vegetation mark is.” (does this even need a comment? are these people inbreed and don't understand common sense?)

The proposed new access road runs across residential property owned by Norm and Valarie Barker, relatives of Cowden. The easement at this time is unsigned, an omission the neighbors allege is purposeful. Once signed, Velacich contends, the residential covenants would be enforceable and the Barkers could find themselves in court defending their granting of an easement. The covenants specify the property may only be used for residential and agricultural purposes, which would seem to preclude using any part of it for an access road to a commercial gravel pit. Real estate covenants are enforceable only through court action by the neighbors, not through county or city agencies. (which means tractor trailers/dump trucks/cement trucks et all would be able to drive on this "commercial(residential) road" at all hours of the night destroying the surrounding property owners and residents ground water supply, house values and many other environmental problems that will occur. i could also talk about the fact i see NOWHERE that this Cowden will spend any of HIS $$ upkeeping the road and making sure no destruction to others' property happens.)

Dannon Traxler, attorney for Velacich, said, “It doesn’t look like anything like this has been permitted in the past. We really want them to follow the code.” She indicated there were issues with the underlying zoning and questioned if commercial trucking would be allowed across residential areas. (JUST FOLLOW THE DAMM CODE AS DO IT LEGIT--OH WAIT, THEN YOU WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO HAVE THE ROAD , WOULD YOU?)

here's a link if you are interested in more: http://www.whatcomindy.com/news.php?subaction=showfull&id=1197567748&archive=&start_from=&ucat=2

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