Topic: Greenspaces (64)

Know your…friends?

This is probably old news to Responsible Development advocates, but just in case, here’s a little heads up on TIm Stewart. He appears to have experience with developments like Fairhaven Highla

This is probably old news to Responsible Development advocates, but just in case, here’s a little heads up on TIm Stewart. He appears to have experience with developments like Fairhaven Highla

This is probably old news to Responsible Development advocates, but just in case, here's a little heads up on TIm Stewart. He appears to have experience with developments like Fairhaven Highlands. He also appears to have no qualms about doing whatever it takes to get them built. I wondered why Mark hired him!


Shoreline's Planning and Development Services Department, under the directorship of Tim Stewart, changed Thornton Creek's classification from "stream" to "wetland" where it flowed through the proposed Aegis' Assisted Living site. This change reduced the necessary buffer by half. The city also granted variances that let Aegis lay foundations much closer to the water in some places. Fish and Wildlife biologist, Doug Hennick, didn't approve of the site plan.

But when Hennick went to a public hearing to say as much, he was surprised to learn a city official had already spoken for him. Planning and Development Director Tim Stewart had submitted an affidavit stating he'd had a phone conversation with Hennick in which the biologist said he no longer had any objections to the development. Hennick had to explain at the hearing that he'd said no such thing.

"Stewart never told me that he was going to write something to represent what I said. He put in sworn testimony about what I said, without letting me see the draft, saying that I had changed my mind," says Hennick.

About Tip Johnson

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Member since Jan 11, 2008

Comments by Readers

Larry Horowitz

Oct 27, 2009

OK, Tip, I can be a little dense sometimes, so let me see if I got this right.

When Bellingham Planning Director Tim Stewart was the Planning Director for the City of Shoreline, his department conveniently changed the classification of a CREEK from a STREAM to a WETLAND?  Is that even possible?  When is a CREEK a WETLAND?  And that change reduced the buffer surrounding this CREEK / WETLAND by half?

So F&W;biologist Hennick disapproves; but, Tim Stewart falsifies an affidavit stating Hennick no longer had any objections - when in fact Hennick still did?

Is that about right?

Was all of this info on Mr. Stewart?s application when he applied to become Bellingham?s Planning Director?

Did this incident have anything to do with Mr. Stewart leaving Shoreline?  Do you know what year that was?  I see the articles are dated in January and June 2002.  Is that around the time he left?

Seems like the battle is always over the buffers.  Here we go again?


Tip Johnson

Oct 27, 2009

Sounds like you understood it about the same way I did.

I do not know whether or not Mr. Stewart listed all his creative skills in his resume for Bellingham, but he somehow impressed Mark Asmundson.

I, too, only have the article dates to go on, but it sure might be interesting to talk to the folks that picketed that project, and maybe some folks down at Shoreline.

Maybe he moved here from Shoreline because Bellingham is too beautiful.  He seems to be working on a solution to that.


Larry Horowitz

Oct 28, 2009

To be fair to Mr. Stewart, I am posting an email I received today that purports to be Mr. Stewart’s response to an April 23, 2006 Bellingham Herald article entitled, “City’s new planning director no stranger to controversy.”

I cannot vouch for the email’s authenticity; but it appears to be written by Mr. Stewart and provides his side of the story. 

TO: Mayor Asmundson
FROM: Tim Stewart Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

DATE: April 26, 2006 RE: Follow up to April 23 Herald article:

?New Planning Director No Stranger to Controversy? I want to make sure you have complete, accurate information about this
newspaper article and the issue it highlighted.

The article ?New Planning Director No Stranger to Controversy? published April 23, 2006 targets a controversy that is nearly six years old. The article lacked facts and objectivity, and likely puzzled more than informed Herald readers. I am disappointed the reporter did not give me an opportunity to be interviewed, since he was given my email address and telephone number in March. I sent a letter to the editor about these problems.

If this article has raised community interest in this project, I will be happy to provide further information when I arrive in the states the first week of May. Meanwhile, below is a summary of the issue highlighted in the Herald article.

The controversy highlighted by the Herald has to do with a telephone conversation I had with Doug Hennick, a biologist with the State Department of Fish and Wildlife, during the late summer of 2000. Aegis Assisted Living had proposed the redevelopment of a site for special needs housing next to I-5. Thornton Creek, a salmon stream, runs through the site then into a drainage structure of I-5.

As Director of Planning and Development Services in the City of Shoreline, I was the official responsible for issuing a SEPA determination and decision on a variance. I wanted to make sure that I communicated with the area biologist from Fish and Wildlife before a decision was issued. The site was already fully developed and I was especially interested in learning how the proposed redevelopment could be used to enhance fish and wildlife habitat. I called Mr. Hennick.

We talked for a long time about the proposal and the draft conditions of approval. I clearly recall Mr. Hennick offering changes to specific conditions and supporting the package of proposed mitigations as beneficial for the stream. Based in part upon this conversation, I then issued the SEPA determination and permit with thirteen conditions/mitigation measures.

But like many land use decisions, the decision was appealed to the City of Shoreline Hearing Examiner. Because I had a scheduling conflict, I was not able to attend the hearing, but instead, signed a Declaration which described my conversation with Mr. Hennick, stating in part, that, ?...Mr. Hennick and I concurred that the permit, with the specific conditions/mitigations, would have a net positive impact upon the functions and values of the creek.

Mr. Hennick expressed support of the permit with the 13 conditions/mitigations.?

At the appeal hearing, held on September 27, 2000, Mr. Hennick appeared as both employee of the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife and as an expert witness for the appellants. He testified in opposition to the permit and stated that my Declaration ?was not correct?.

However, later in the hearing, he testified that: ?...the mitigation that has been described here will, in fact, make the stream better….?

On cross examination, Mr. Hennick was again asked about his opinion of the impact of the proposed mitigation: ?Your statement was essentially that the bottom line to the mitigation proposals by Aegis in this case, is an enhancement, an improvement of the habitat at this site, isn?t that correct??

Mr. Hennick, under oath, answered: ?Yes?.

It has been nearly six years since Mr. Hennick and I had the telephone conversation highlighted on the front page of the Herald. The project has been built and is now occupied. The mitigation measures have been completed, the habitat improved and fish passage barriers removed. The developer has been fined $30,000 by the City. A film has been made about the negative environmental impacts of the development. A claim against the City by Aegis for $3.2 million has been dismissed. Project opponents have been elected to the Shoreline City Council. Civil lawsuits between the private parties have been filed and settled. But an arson case at the site has not been solved and still the land use litigation continues, albeit with fresh new lawyers on both sides.

I have learned many lessons during the long and challenging Aegis development process. One lesson I learned, about five years ago, is that when I write a heated and impassioned letter, it is always, always, much better to sleep on it and perhaps toss it into the trash the next morning, than to ship it out in a rush with the evening mail.

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Know your…friends?

By Tip JohnsonOn Oct 27, 2009

This is probably old news to Responsible Development advocates, but just in case, here’s a little heads up on TIm Stewart. He appears to have experience with developments like Fairhaven Highla

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