Freeland group studies site for sewer plant

The Freeland Sub-Area Planning Committee held its first meeting July 24 since the recent death of its former chairman, Tom Roehl. The group stuck to business, which this week meant sewers.

As the meeting got under way, vice-chairman Rocky Knickerbocker called for a moment of silence to remember Roehl.

"I don't think we can replace Tom in this community," Knickerbocker said. "He will be sorely missed."

The committee then got on to the business of working on a comprehensive sewer plan for Freeland. The committee, with engineering consultants from Tetra Tech/KCM has selected a septic tank effluent pumping, or STEP, collection system. Yet to be decided are the the treatment discharge alternatives. Members didn't make a decision on alternatives, but they are a tad closer.

Following an hour of discussion, the committee voted unanimously to have Gary Hess, an Island County Public Works engineer, evaluate pasture land along Highway 525 between Cameron and Bush Point Roads as a potential treatment and discharge site.

Committee members charged Hess with analyzing the soil, and the visual, noise and view corridor impact of placing a treatment facility in that location.

Hess was hoping for a final decision, but committee members wanted more information before they approved one site over another.

"I want to keep the ball rolling, keep moving forward," Hess said. "We are impacting the schedule which costs money," Hess said.

A draft of the comprehensive sewer plan is expected in September, with completion coming at the end of the year.

Two other areas suggested by engineers and Hess were a portion of the 740-acre parcel off Mutiny Bay Road, and acreage in the Holmes Harbor area.

Advantages of the highway site, according to Tetra Tech engineer Alex Chen, are its proximity to Freeland, its being owned by a single party, and the small amount of development around it.

Several of the roughly 20 people at the meeting expressed concern about winter flooding in that area, and said there is pond on the land.

"I have seen major flooding from the other side of Mutiny Bay all the way to the boat launch," said Mutiny Bay resident Charlie Stromberg. "I am concerned that adding effluent would add to the flooding."

If that site were chosen, about 45 of the 110 acres would be used for treatment and discharge facilities.

A public workshop to discuss these alternatives is planned for Aug. 20 with a regular meeting on Aug. 25. On the upcoming agenda is the election of new officers.

At their July 28 meeting, Island County commissioners appointed Bryan Nichols, co-owner of Nichols Brothers, to replace Roehl.

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