Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tumwater Issues Stop Work Order on Development at Old Brewhouse

Above: Construction equipment and maintenance debris seen around the Old Brewhouse building in Tumwater on October 8 and October 18 indicated a dramatic difference in recent road construction and water diversion efforts. Multiple areas with black tubing were seen in place, diverting water which was streaming from a nearby hillside. The hillside contains at least nine artesian springs.

By Janine Unsoeld

The City of Tumwater has issued a stop work order to Old Brewhouse developer George Heidgerken and Falls Development, LLC.
In a voicemail yesterday, Chris Carlson, permit manager for the City of Tumwater, said, “We have issued a stop work order to the property owner down there, and he’s basically graded without a permit, and he has also filled a portion of a Category 3 wetland, a slope wetland, on the south side of the access road…the site is under stop work.

“We have contacted Alex Callender, over at the shoreline section of the Department of Ecology, letting him know where we’re at with this. The lead official right now is in the process of actually issuing the notice of violation….”
Carlson also said that the city will be setting up a meeting with both Ecology and the Army Corps of Engineers in the next couple of days to discuss what each agency’s course of action will be.

“We’re working on a solution to try and get the project in compliance,” he said.

Above: Excavation, road grading, and drain pipes as seen on the south side of the Old Brewhouse building on October 18, 2014.

Stop Work Order Details

City of Tumwater building official John Darnell visited the site this week after receiving a complaint that grading and filling work was being conducted on the south side of the building. Darnell confirmed that this work was being done without permits required under several Tumwater city codes including grading, wetland protection standards, and fish and wildlife habitat protection.

The stop work order, dated October 28, also requires that a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) be in place.

“With the exception of immediate erosion control measures, the Stop Work Order will remain in place until all plans, mitigations and approvals have been completed....You are required to submit a SWPPP plan designed and stamped by a licensed professional engineer to mitigate the potential erosion and stabilize the disturbed area....You also need to prepare a report/plan prepared by a licensed wetland biologist and civil engineer showing how the wetland and habitat area will be mitigated. Once we have the report and plan we will schedule a meeting with you and the agencies involved to determine if the mitigation is acceptable....” said Darnell. 

Citizen Complaints

The City of Tumwater is in the process of preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed redevelopment of an area that includes the Old Brewhouse.
The city determined that this redevelopment is likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment. Three land use scenarios for the site was identified by the city and the public comment for these scenarios was due to Tim Smith on October 20.
As a private citizen, this reporter requested a stop work order at the Old Brewhouse site after she witnessed, on two occasions, extensive construction being done at the site.

She was taken on two tours of the property, one led by Tim Smith, planning manager at the City of Tumwater on October 8, and one led by the Old Brewhouse Foundation on October 18. On both tours, it was apparent that significant road construction and water diversion work was being done at the site. Other citizens were also on both tours.

The letter dated October 20 by Janine Unsoeld was written and submitted in a timely manner as a public comment and says, in part:
“I request that the public comment deadline for TUM-14-0741 be extended to allow the public more time to research the three land use alternatives. I request a stop-work order on all activities on the property until these roles, and all environmental considerations under WAC 197-11-444 are better understood by all concerned parties.”

City of Tumwater Response

On October 22, Smith sent Unsoeld an email, saying, in part:
“City staff will continue to work with the landowner regarding ongoing maintenance work onsite. Any site work that requires a permit will be enforced by staff.”

On October 23, Little Hollywood emailed several staff members in charge of wetland and shoreline permits at the state Department of Ecology, including Callender, and the state department of Fish and Wildlife expressing concerns.
Little Hollywood also sent them a particularly disturbing picture and described the scene:

“…Water is flowing directly from the hillside (I've been told there are nine artesian springs there) into the moat, and going under the building and presumably, going somewhere, most likely the nearby wetlands and into the Deschutes River. The old metal pipes are being dug up at the base of the hillside, which I saw in place, in disarray. The big black tubes are replacements, it appears. There are new trenches and a road being built.
“….Can you clarify for me the role of when Ecology and Fish and Wildlife may get involved, and wetland and shoreline issues will be monitored with regard to this property? I am concerned about possible conflicts of interest at the City of Tumwater….”

Above: Another view of the excavation, road grading, and drain pipes as seen on the south side of the Old Brewhouse building on October 18, 2014.
Falls Development Response to Stop Work Order
Jon  Potter, Old Brewhouse project manager for Falls Development, LLC, was reached late this afternoon by telephone and asked about the stop work order.
“It shouldn’t have happened…it wasn’t intentional…it was ignorance. We dropped the ball on two things: the wetland, and not keeping people apprised of what was going on….” said Potter.
According to Potter, a paint shop used to exist next to the old keg house between the existing road and the building. When Heidgerken bought the property, he could have gone after Miller Brewing Company to clean it up, but since they were in negotiations with Miller to lift the brewing deed restriction, Heidgerken decided to pick his battles and do the environmental clean-up himself.
The deed restriction was lifted, and under a voluntary cleanup agreement with the state Department of Ecology, Falls Development excavated the area and handled dumpage fees for the contaminated soil. Potter said this cost developer George Heidgerken about $70,000. The excavation created a large hole where groundwater monitoring wells are expected to be placed. Since the hole was so big, it was necessary to bring in rock so that the monitoring wells could be placed.
“….As part of that effort, drainage pipes were draining into that hole. George went back in and removed pipes on the other side….What should have happened, and didn’t happen on our part, is say, ‘Listen, this backfilling is bigger than anticipated.’ He didn’t go through the proper channels to remove the pipes….I’m angry with, but sympathetic with George that he tried to take the pipes out, but not in the right way. He felt like he was doing the right thing….”
Potter said AEG Engineering in Olympia is their consultant who developed their remediation plan and said they didn’t need a grading permit.
“It’s got to be done the right way and I am furious to put city staff in the position they are in….This is truly a public-private partnership and for us to screw up like that was not good. I can’t say it any other way….” said Potter.
Potter said that their staff and the city’s staff will look at the issue to come up with a proposal regarding the wetland encroachment, which will determine the project’s future schedule.
“When it’s all said and done, it’ll be spectacular….” said Potter.
Above: Old Brewhouse Tower reflected in a puddle on October 18, 2014.
For more information, go to Little Hollywood at, and see articles dated October 12, “Tumwater Seeks Public Comment on Old Brewery Proposed Development,” and October 16,“Developer Heidgerken Shares Old Brewery Vision.”