Open letter to Bellingham Planning Director Jeff Thomas re: Fairhaven Highlands application deadlinePermalink +
Sun, Oct 31, 2010, 6:20 pm // Larry Horowitz
Update Oct 31:
Upon further review of the correspondence between the applicant’s attorney and Interim Planning Director Jeff Thomas, it’s not clear whether there has been any meeting of the minds.
In the attorney’s Oct 28 letter, he observes that the revised estimate for the EIS of $345,000 substantially exceeds the initial contract amount of $75,000. I agree. But is anyone really surprised by the cost overrun?
When the city went out to bid back in 2007, five consulting firms submitted proposals, which ranged from an estimate of 489 hours (ESA Adolfson) to 2,082 hours (Wheeler Consulting Group). ESA Adolfson was the consultant hand-picked and recommended by the developer. Wheeler was a primary author of the 1995 Chuckanut Ridge EIS and was very familiar with the property.
It was obvious to everyone that ESA’s bid, which was less than one-fourth of Wheeler’s, was insufficient. As it turns out, the final estimate of $345,000 is about 4 ½ times the initial estimate, or roughly what Wheeler proposed. Why is anyone surprised that ESA’s estimate was way too low? And how can the developer complain now when the city selected the developer’s hand-picked consultant?
The attorney goes on to assert the applicant’s right to seek mediation or other informal alternative dispute resolution if the applicant does not agree to the projected, additional expenses to complete the EIS. So, the applicant “sets aside” its request for an extension only to implement an alternate delay tactic. The attorney has asked the city to compile time and expense records, a task estimated to take at least 30 days. Then, after that’s complete, the applicant will likely seek mediation to delay the process further. An obvious stall tactic.
Finally, the attorney indicates that the applicant may “wish to revisit ‘suspension’ of these processes” at some point in the future. WTF?
In Mr. Thomas’ Oct 29 letter, he enumerates the terms of this new “agreement” with clear deadlines for items 1-3 and a vague, unenforceable provision for item 4. He also states that the city does not agree to any future “suspension” of the EIS process (nice work, Jeff).
Finally, in the attorney’s Oct 29 letter, he states that the applicant, Greenbriar NW Associates, “does object to the proposed contract revision” and wishes “to exercise its contractual rights of review and negotiation.”
And so the stall begins. Who needs an extension when you can game the system so easily?
- Has there been any meeting of the minds?
- Is the EIS process moving forward?
- Has the applicant violated the city’s 120-day deadline?
- Are these applications now null and void?
Update Oct 29, 6:00 pm:
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