Council Legislation

Proposed Resolution No. R2021-40

Title: A Resolution of the Pierce County Council Confirming the Appointment of Chuck Sundsmo (District 3) to the Pierce County Planning Commission.

Status: Passed

Sponsors: Councilmembers Amy Cruver

Final votes

April 6, 2021
Aye Aye Aye Nay Aye Nay Nay

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Public Comments

Name Date Comment
James L Halmo 3/29/21 9:45 PM Mr. Chairman and Members of the Pierce County Council Re: Consent Agenda – Proposed Resolution R2021-40 Appointment of Chuck Sundsmo to the County’s Planning Commission, In my seventeen years of corresponding with the Council I have never addressed the pending appointment of a private citizen to the any County appointed body. In this instance, I believe that I must make some comments. I find Mr. Sundsmo to be a congenial person, who will listen to what you have to say. However, I have been engaged with others in at least two legal cases involving Mr. Sudsmo bearing his judgment. Environmental Check List. The first was the filing of a land use permit for lands immediately to the west of the Graham Rural Activity Center (RAC). The 20 acre parcel also borders a housing complex to the north. The northern neighbors had been informed by a real estate agent that the neighboring property to the south was a dedicated ‘green belt.’ That proved to be false. During a meeting of the Graham Land Use Advisory Commission (LUAC) to review the application, the property owners’ agents presented a map of the varied proposed commercial structures, but it did not show the location of proposed septic and drain fields. One agent marked the map to show where they would be located. The neighbors were aghast. The drain fields would be right up to properties. It was later discovered that drain fields would be located on soils that might not ‘perk.’ They would be adjacent to the home owners’ drain fields. The potential for drain fields to fail would be high, resulting in the county ‘red-lining’ the properties and forcing home owners to connect to sewers. The cost would be prohibitive. A review of the County’s permits showed that Mr. Sudsmo had completed the required Environmental Check List. Most of the answers were filled in with an “N/A” or left blank. One question about the impact of noise from the commercial facilities was not blank. Mr. Sundsmo wrote, as I recall, “Screams of exasperation in filling out environmental checklists.” The home owners formed a legal association, and filed a formal challenge in Superior Court. Neither the County’s lawyer nor the land owners’ lawyer could explain the legal purpose of the environmental checklist. The neighbors won their case in Superior Court and well as before the Court of Appeals. The Washington State Supreme Court refused to hear the case, thus protecting the association’s legal challenge. Graham RAC Expansion. The second case involved Mr. Sundsmo’s pursuit of a Comprehensive Plan Amendment to enlarge Graham RAC in tits NE Quadrant along State Highway 161 (Meridian). After the County Council approved that Map Amendment, a formal challenge was made to the State’s Growth Management Hearings Board. The Hearings Board subsequently ruled that the County’s adoption of that expansion did not comply with State law. The Council was required to rescind its legislation. I served four yeas on the Graham Community Planning Board. Our group was always open to citizens’ attendance at meeting, permitting them to offer comments. We were the only Community Planning Board to have all meeting minutes posted on the County’s website. We heard from our citizens. We responded with a draft addressing their concerns. Unfortunately, I believe that Mr. Sundsmo will not act impartially on the Planning Commission in serving the greater interest of the local citizens residing in the Graham Community Plan area. His personal actions show that his clients come first, when some better discretion would be advised. He comes from the development community and will serve their interests first. If appointed, I seriously wonder if he would recuse himself from those cases in which he has a personal interest. I have my doubts. Thus, I recommend that you vote ‘no’ on Resolution R2021-40. Sincerely, James L. Halmo 9806 247th Street Ct East Graham, WA 98338 (253) 875-1890