Hearing examiner to issue decision on St. Edward Seminary

A hearing on the future of the St. Edward Seminary buildings took two days earlier this month for all interested parties to present testimony.

Two matters went before Kenmore Hearing Examiner Phil Olbrechts: approval of Daniels Real Estate’s site plan for the property, for which it is in a lease with Washington State Parks; and an appeal of the final environmental impact statement for the project, which was prepared by the City of Kenmore.

Representatives of Daniels Real Estate, Washington State Parks and the City of Kenmore all provided testimony over the two-day hearing at Kenmore City Hall, as did the appellants in the case, local residents who are concerned about the environmental and traffic impacts of Daniels’ proposed renovations to the seminary building to turn it into a lodge.

Rebecca Hirt, chair of the nonprofit Citizens for Saint Edward State Park, was the lead appellant, and was joined in the appeal by Peter Lance and Ann Hurst, who are also members of the group.

Olbrechts has not yet issued his decision on the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) appeal or a recommendation for the site plan, and Kenmore Development Services Director Bryan Hampson indicated they would come on or around March 24, to make it onto the docket for the April 17 Kenmore City Council meeting.

The record on the issue has been closed by the hearing examiner, so no new testimony on the matter can be taken at that council meeting.

“If something comes up or (Olbrechts) needs more time, we may need to move that date,” Hampson said.

If Olbrechts denies the SEPA appeal and recommends approval of the site plan to the council and the council in turn approves the plan and affirms the appeal decision, the city will issue a site plan permit. Daniels can then move forward with the design for their plan to turn the seminary into a lodge and apply for construction and/or engineering permits with the city.

If Olbrechts finds validity in the appellants’ claims, the EIS could be sent back to the city for further analysis or clarification, Hampson said.

“There’s a whole bunch of possibilities that could happen (with the appeal),” Hampson said.

No matter which way the hearing examiner rules on the SEPA appeal, the case could go to superior court, Hampson said.

More information about the project, including documentation of the appeal and the EIS, can be found at www.kenmorewa.gov/LodgeatSaintEdward. Video of the hearing can also be found on the city’s website.