Conflict between residents of Winlock and community development over a new subdivision

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November 22 — When Chad Ruben and his wife bought their property in the urban growth area of ​​Winlock 11 years ago, they expected to settle into a quiet retirement.

The construction vehicles that arrived in August, passing their property at 6:30 a.m. most of the time, were a game-changer.

But it’s not the construction vehicles themselves that worry Ruben and his neighbors: it’s the 40-house subdivision that construction crews are building in the neighborhood.

Meyers Meadows is built on 7.36 acres of land just north of State Highway 505 and east of Kakela Road. When complete, it will house 40 new homes with paved roads, rolled curbs, gutters, sidewalks, a storm water basin, street lights and a park to serve the new residents.

Winlock is experiencing significant growth, with a recently completed Lowe’s distribution facility in the Benaroya Industrial Park and others attracting workers. Subdivisions like Meyers Meadows attract families as local services grow to keep pace.

And while many officials and economists view the growth as positive for the Lewis County community, it is creating problems for longtime Winlock residents like Ruben.

Ruben’s main concern with the development of Meyers Meadows is a change in elevation level that results in the drainage of the construction area on his property, where he maintains a small apple orchard and grazes his horses.

“I have standing water in this part of my field for the first time in 11 years. Now imagine all the contaminants that can come from homes,” Ruben said in a November 8 Facebook post. “As it is, all of these things from that part of the housing complex will go through my field where my horses eat. Then my blackberries and apple trees that we eat.”

During the recent heavy rains, Ruben saw muddy water flowing through his pasture, along Kakela Avenue and into Olequa Creek.

“This is proof of how far the contaminants from this work can travel,” Ruben wrote in a Facebook post on Nov. 11.

The Ecology Ministry got involved and hay bales were stacked around the construction site to filter the mud from the water before it spilled into the stream.

The rain has also presented a problem for another Meyers Meadows neighbor, Jeremy Cloud, who uses a shared underground well along the fence of his property as the main source of water.

As part of the construction of Meyers Meadows, a retention pond was installed over Cloud’s well, and Cloud is concerned that subdivision contaminants will seep into the ground and contaminate the well water.

“My concern from the start was that there were going to be issues with contaminants from the homes and cars on the streets,” Cloud said.

If the well failed a quality inspection, Cloud said he would be forced to relocate to city water and sewers.

“Our family cannot afford another public service like this,” he said.

Cloud and Ruben have both stated that they have no problem with entering the Subdivision or with Winlock’s ongoing expansion, as long as they can continue to live on as they have been.

“We just want it to be done right and we want the impact on our two properties to be as minimal as possible,” Cloud said.

Cloud and Ruben have both brought concerns about the project to the Town of Winlock, which Cloud says has been responsive.

“The town of Winlock, they responded the way you’d hope a municipality would respond,” Cloud said.

That said, Cloud and Ruben both said the city had not communicated on the project. Affected residents received a one-paragraph public notice in May stating that the project was underway and that there would be a public hearing, but they heard nothing else about the project until the arrival of construction vehicles in August.

The developer has gone through the public hearing process for the first public and utility rankings, which is in the process of being built, according to Winlock’s director of community development, Robert Webster.

Asked by a reporter over the phone about how the Town of Winlock is handling complaints about the project, Webster said, “This is where people need to do their due diligence and know what they are talking about before they start getting involved. complain to the newspaper and other places. “

He recommended that people review the history of the project before complaining, and project application and permit documents are available online on the Department of Ecology’s website at: apps.ecology.wa.gov/paris/FacilitySummary.aspx?FacilityId=97612.

While Cloud and Ruben said Webster had allayed their concerns – telling Cloud that a sealed wellhead would protect his well and Ruben that construction would include a stormwater system capable of handling runoff from the subdivision – Webster told The Chronicle that the two neighbors were wrong about their concerns.

He added that residents will have to “accept what is actually written” in the city code of Winlock, “such as where they are supposed to dispose of their well when the city’s water and sewers are become available, which most people don’t know. I guess because no one is actually doing their job and looking at things like that, or how they’re supposed to put storm water and storm sewers. “

“… Everyone will complain and that’s good. I have my ducks covered and I’m ready to go, so they can say whatever they want, do whatever they want, write whatever they want it, but I’m in it and that’s all that matters, “he said.

Webster then abruptly ended the call with the Chronicle reporter.

Leveling and utility work for Meyers Meadows is expected to be completed in June 2022, and a schedule for the remaining construction is not yet available.


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