Possible final action Feb. 24

  SUMAS ­— City counselors indicated basic approval Monday for the plans of a Canadian company to build a concrete manufacturing facility at 3867 Kneuman Rd. on the  west side of town.

  After a public hearing at which about 15 people spoke, quite evenly divided on the issue, the council did not take a vote, but instead gave enough direction to city planner Roland Harper to proceed.

  Harper said he could come back to the next council meeting on Feb. 24 with specific paperwork to be voted on.

  Severin Samulski of Abbotsford, B.C., who has Tristar Brick & Block Ltd. there, brought forward this proposed project to the city during 2019. The council also held a hearing last November, but chose to delay action to get more information before deciding on the conditional-use permit application.

  This time, as earlier, the concerns of some who came to the microphone, were that the plant on 8.4 acres could contaminate air and water, and they wondered why it was being built in Sumas at all.

  “Personally, I think it will be a disaster, and I hope we don’t bring it here,” said Toby Alexander, 130 Garfield St.

  Advocates for the project, including some in the local gravel or concrete industry, said there are many controls and regulations that already keep any operation like this from doing any polluting.

  “This is a good clean operation and what this property was set up for,” said Dave Grainger, referring to foreign-trade-zone areas inside Sumas taking advantage of the town’s proximity to Canada.

  “They are totally contained within the building,” said Ron Groen, who works for Cowden Gravel & Ready-Mix. He also noted the nine family-wage jobs that would be created.

  However, another speaker had a different view. “For nine jobs, it is going to affect a whole lot more people,” said Lawrence Nelson, living on Arthur’s Way above the project site.

  The applicant technically is Lakeport Reach LLC, a Washington corporation of Samulski in Washington State. 

  After the meeting, Samulski said of the council’s consideration of his application, “I think we’re breaking through. I think the council is actually looking at all the facts and data and not letting emotions get in the way.”

  Seattle consultant Desiree Douglass has been hired by Samulski to head up the project’s application for state Ecology and Fish & Wildlife as well as U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits.

  Douglass said the project is not going through an environmental impact statement because it does not meet definite threshholds for doing so.

  She also addressed questions about a British Columbia entrepreneur wanting to locate in Sumas, saying it is much better for transportation and smoothly serving the Seattle market and beyond, to already have an operation in the United States.

  Douglass’s paperwork shows that there will be a wetland mitigation site farther west and south of Kneuman Road to compensate for filling four-fifths of an acre at the construction site. 

  Also coming up in Monday’s discussion was a culvert that has not been working as it is supposed to, and which Samulski proposes to remove and replace for proper water flow — a cost that may be about $50,000 to $60,000.

  City councilors sounded agreeable to sharing some of that cost with him.