by Jack Mayne
The City of Des Moines will do nothing more on the proposed Woodmont area drug and substance rehabilitation facility until at least 2016, giving Valley Cities time to find another location for some or all of its operations.
Des Moines Public Works Director Dan Brewer wrote a letter on Friday (Oct. 15; letters enclosed below) saying the city has approved Valley Cities CEO Kenneth Taylor’s request to place “all procedural and substantive review of your permits” on hold until the end of the year, “particularly the final design review decision and the building permit application…”
Taylor requested the hold in a letter to Brewer yesterday.
Mayor Dave Kaplan said Friday that “obviously we are pleased that Valley Cities is willing to re-explore options, alternative locations.”
Kaplan said it was his understanding that Valley Cities was “trying to identify potential locations” to move some or all of their services … (at least) “moving some of the more problematic services elsewhere.”
Valley Cities earlier this year proposed a plan to build a drug, alcohol and mental health treatment center in their neighborhood along Pacific Coast Highway in south Des Moines (read our extensive previous coverage here).
Valley Cities Counseling and Consultation of Kent has purchased property in the Woodmont neighborhood at 26915 Pacific Highway South. It said then it planned to build a 19,665 square foot mental health evaluation and treatment facility with 24 beds, a 25,340 square foot detoxification facility with 40 beds, along with an office building, a dispensary clinic, and meeting facility.
This led to a loud and sustained outcry from residents of the south Des Moines site, close by an elementary school and a public library.
Two long, loud and angry hearings were held in the Woodmont neighborhood, and more sustained objections were heard at Des Moines City Council meetings.
Neighbors said the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) was not properly followed and accused city officials and the mayor of not letting the residents of the area know of the plans until after the initial hearings had been held and also had notified only a few residents close by the proposed facility.
After the public outcry, State Reps. Tina Orwall and Carol Gregory said the facilities were needed but agreed the Woodmont neighborhood was not a good location because of the school and library. Also King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove said he would work to block any King County funds from the project.
This hold will give all parties time to explore other locations or to craft a so-called “Good Neighbor Agreement” that would require specific safeguards, fees and other payments from Valley Cities to cover extra policing and city services.
The Council two weeks ago unanimously approved the hiring of the expert land use lawyer even after hearing that one hired earlier by the city’s insurance carrier said there were ways the city could better control the facility’s construction and lawsuits to stop it were possible.
At the Council meeting on Oct. 1, City Manager Tony Piasecki said efforts to find a new location for the Woodmont Recovery facility “are continuing” and that “Tina Orwall and your representatives are working feverishly to see if they can find some other place and some other way to make the campus moved to some other location.”