Northwest NEWS

August 3, 1998

Front Page

Pristine ponds could be threatened by development


Lisa Allen/Valley View

Lou Whipple cleans an outflow at one of his fish ponds.

   by Lisa Allen
   Valley View Editor

   DUVALL--Lou and Carroll Whipple didn't plan on spending their retirement years fighting city hall.
   Lou, 82, and Carroll, 78, moved from Lake City to five acres on Kennedy Drive 30 years ago. During the years hence they labored long and hard developing a series of trout ponds in the shade of second-growth cedars, firs and hemlock. They planted trees to replace those that were cut.
   Now it is taking all their energy just to try and save it.
   The town is growing fast and their land, and the property surrounding it, have been annexed into the city. On August 13, the City Council will hold a public hearing on Miller's Homestead, a proposed 75-home development adjacent to and just uphill from the Whipples' property.
   Developers of the property include Duvall business owners Neal Coy and Mike Chapman, among others. Coy is a city councilmember.
   The Whipples insist they don't want to stop the 25-acre development, but want to make sure it doesn't impact them or their neighbors.
   They say the developers should be required to file an Environmental Impact statement for the proposal due to the sensitivity of the area.
   Currently only an amended/modified Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance (MDNS) has been issued for the plat.
   "It's their property and they can do what they want with it," says Lou Whipple. "But this is my property and I don't want it to be affected.They have no right to damage us or damage Coe Clemmons."
   The trout ponds are fed by a tributary of Coe-Clemmons Creek, a protected salmon stream. Underneath it all is a sensitive aquifer.
   "There are underground streams everywhere," said Carroll Whipple. "In neighboring developments the back yards are so wet the kids have to play in the streets. The developers have given us no guarantees. It could affect the aquifer, and if silting occurs, the trout will die."
   Lou Whipple said a hydrologist told them they could be impacted heavily and could lose a considerable amount of water.
   He said they have requested a 100-foot buffer, but the developers have only offered a 20-foot greenbelt.
   "They want us to add another 20 feet and provide plantings. But the plantings are already there," he says, pointing to the heavy stand of trees and brush in the direction of the proposed development. "And someone came into our property and marked 19 trees with an 18 inch caliper for cutting. Then they told us it was for inventory."
   The Whipples are appealing the city's acceptance of the MDNS, claiming they were not identified to be a trout farm and a sensitive area in the 1994 Duvall Comprehensive Plan.
   Lou Whipple blames the council and planning commission for approving developments without doing adequate research.
   "The biggest problem is city government," he said. "They (the council) don't know anything about water. How can they vote something in if they don't know anything about it? They haven't looked at the property or listened to a hydrologist or engineer. They allow developers to go willy-nilly without doing any studies."
   Helping the Whipples is former Duvall city engineer Ken McDowell, who agrees that more studies need to be done on the aquifer.
   "The developer's ground water engineers say they have studied the area for 18 months, but they don't seem to know the depth or location of the aquifer," McDowell said. "If they don't know where it is, how can they stay away from it? I just think it needs to be looked at more. If they are going to develop, they need to do it right."
   He says the council hasn't considered the effects of buffers, runoff and groundwater sediment in the aquifer.
   "Sediment kills fish and the creek. It's not good for anyone. I feel they should be putting in some wells to monitor the aquifer during the winter," he said. "And, if an EIS isn't required and there is damage, the Whipples could be able to recover."
   McDowell resigned from his job as city engineer April 13. A letter he had sent to Mayor Glen Kuntz at the time indicated he (McDowell) felt his decisions were being undermined and second-guessed by the mayor.
   McDowell said when he was working in Duvall, "they wanted to push everything through until they got to engineering, then that was pushed through and not done.We were put in a position where something was thrown in front of us and we were told to sign."
   He added he was concerned that 30 years of work by the Whipples could be ruined in 30 days by poorly done site work.
   "The Whipples' setup is really unique," he said. "It would be a shame to see something happen to it."