August 24, 1998
DDES recommends denial of Alberg mining application
by Lisa Allen
Valley View Editor
DUVALL--The Department of Developmental and Environmental Services (DDES) has recommended denial of a grading permit application by a Seattle family wanting to develop a large-scale gravel mine on 160 acres south of here.
Tom, Mike and Kay Alberg, owners of the property for 40 years, had achieved legal nonconforming status (LNC) for the six parcels along SR-203 through a change in the 1994 Comp Plan amendments, convincing the County Council to give it that designation by offering receipts that they said showed that the site had been mined in the past.
But after the Albergs applied for a grading permit, a group of residents living nearby complained to the County Council, saying they had proof the property had never been mined.
After a series of public hearings on the issue over the last couple of years, the council agreed with the neighborhood group (the Novelty Neighbors), and redesignated the property as a Potential Mineral Resource site.
The Albergs appealed to the Growth Managment Hearings Board, which dismissed the last of three appeals on legal issues last month, stating that the site is not entitled to LNC status under the Comp Plan. That decision must be made by DDES, the Board said.
In an August 18 letter from Randy Sandin, DDES Site Development Service Section, Sandin told the Albergs' attorney, Joel Haggard, that it was the Department's intention to recommend that "the Director deny your clients' application for a grading permit, which is premised on their request for recognition of this property as a non-conforming gravel site."
Sandin noted in his letter that the Albergs applied for a clearing and grading permit to mine sand and gravel, but that the permit cannot be granted unless the proposed use is permitted under the zoning code and that the site is not currently zoned for mineral extraction.
As a result, Sandin said, the Albergs "are seeking to establish a nonconforming use of sufficient scope to authorize the operations contemplated by their grading permit application."
In the letter, Sandin went on to say the "determinative question in this case is whether there was a commercial mining operation at the site as of 1958 when the land was first zoned to a designation which prohibited mining."
Sandin noted that the Albergs' information submitted in support of the LNC status "consisted of unsworn and unverifiable statements and sales receipts that could not be directly tied to the property...Based upon our review of this information, available aerial photos and a visit to the site, we concluded that there was insufficient information available to support their request."
Sandin also said in the letter that the department received a number of letters and sworn statements from tenants and long-time neighbors of the property, that partially validate and partially contradict the information that was originally provided by the Albergs.
In addition, Sandin said, the lessee of the property between 1978 and 1983 "states in a sworn statement that 'At no time during the period I rented this property did the Albergs or anyone representing them use the land or buildings on the property for any reasons.'"
Sandin said then that, "At least two of the sales receipts provided by the Albergs to support their request were from this period."
Sandin concluded that the record will be held open for 30 days to allow time for all parties to respond.