Updated with majority councilmembers’ response.
The three Edmonds City Councilmembers who voted to support narrower buffers for the Edmonds Marsh through the city’s Shoreline Master Program have sent their own letter to the Washington State Department of Ecology, reiterating their opinion that a 65-foot setback is in the long run better for the marsh ecology than the wider 125-foot setback approved by the council majority Sept. 28.
In a letter to Ecology Department Director Maia D. Bellon, Councilmembers Tom Mesaros, Dave Teitzel and Neil Tibbott said that while they respect the council majority vote regarding the wider buffer, “we think it also fair to let you know that the city council decision was divided on a 3-4 vote.
“On this issue, the three of us dissented from the majority because we believe the marsh environment is more likely to be improved within the next few years by allowing a reasonable level of development for which enhancing the marsh — for example, through buffer restoration and a more effective stormwater management system — would be required,” the councilmembers continued.
The three reiterated their concerns that the proposed 110-foot buffer with an additional 15-foot building setback “takes up such a significant amount of private property that the owners will not be motivated to redevelop and improve the marsh environment.”
The councilmembers also noted that they supported Mayor Dave Earling’s letter, sent to Bellon on Oct. 21, that stated his support for the 65-foot marsh setback.
In an email sent to the media along with a copy of the Ecology Department letter, Councilmember Teitzel said the three dissenting councilmembers also believe that “responsible redevelopment in Harbor Square will result in other environmental benefits.” For example, residential living units added to the Harbor Square area would will meet goals of the state Growth Management Act and the Puget Sound Regional Council’s Vision 2040 “by creating transportation-oriented development very near heavy rail, bus and ferry routes,” Teitzel said. “Such redevelopment will contribute to reductions in traffic congestion and greenhouse gasses to the extent residents elect to utilize readily-available transit options.”
You can read the entire letter from the three councilmembers here.
In response, the four councilmembers who approved the 110-foot buffer/15-foot setback — and sent a letter to the Ecology Department as the city’s official response — sent the following statement to My Edmonds News:
“This is unprecedented and divisive for a minority of councilmembers to send a letter to a state agency, the Dept. of Ecology, in direct opposition to the 110 foot marsh buffer passed by Council. We have never heard of such actions taken by a handful of councilmembers in the history of our Edmonds City Council. These actions by Councilmembers Teitzel, Tibbot, and Mesaros have created a new division in the good work we are trying to achieve.
It is disrespectful to the conduct long established and upheld by past councils. What sort of message does this send every time some councilmembers disagree with a vote that they fire off letters to state agencies and other governing bodies in opposition?
Our citizens elected us to work together. We vote all the time and sometimes we win and sometimes we lose, but we learn to move on. Unfortunately, these councilmembers seem to be taking notes from Congress where partisanship trumps common sense. They seem perfectly fine in taking the entire council down with them.
The citizens of Edmonds deserve better.
Kristiana Johnson, Council President