A standing-room-only crowd filled the Ocean Shores Lions Club last Thursday for a public hearing on an application for a conditional use permit that would allow construction of a 6,000 square foot structure called the “Eden Faith Center” in a residential area on two adjacent lots at 250 S. Razor Clam Drive in Ocean Shores.
After several hours and sworn testimony on both sides of the issue, the hearing was in effect recessed for at least a month, to give the applicant time to provide more information, specifically including a Washington State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) report. The state Department of Ecology says “the SEPA process identifies and analyzes environmental impacts…. The SEPA review process helps agency decision-makers, applicants, and the public understand how the entire proposal will affect the environment.”
A Kirkland, WA non-profit, Father & Sons Ministries, submitted an application in June that seeks approval to build a “church in residential zone” on property it owns on S. Razor Clam Drive. The area is zoned R-1, Single Family Residence. Michelle McClusky, who owns and operates the registered 508c1a non-profit, said she didn’t understand she needed to submit a SEPA report despite the city’s Planning Department requesting one.
Residents testifying against the proposal cited a number of questions and concerns that the impartial hearing examiner, attorney Ted Hunter of Seattle, felt a SEPA report could address, such as impacts on local traffic, parking, noise and outdoor lighting.
When he opened the hearing, Hunter told the crowd that, despite the expectation of many emotional arguments from concerned residents, the law governing such hearings demands his decision be based on applicable laws, such as local zoning codes and other legal requirements.
McClusky now has three months to submit the SEPA report but said she expects to do so in the next week or two. With the Planning Department then needing time to analyze the document, resuming the hearing on her zoning variance application is a month or more away.
In her presentation to the hearing, McClusky said, “My husband and I bought the property on S. Razor Clam Drive over 25 years ago with the intention of building a place to come and be refreshed. Since my husband recently passed away last year, I am continuing our dream of building the center as he would have wanted me to. Right before my husband’s passing, a wonderful group … purchased our church building in Kirkland, which inspired us even more to follow through with our dream to … transfer our non-denomination ministry that we started in Kirkland in 1990, to an Ocean Shores location … allowing us to have smaller group meetings and be more individualized and focused in our ministry.”
She said the building’s architecture would not look like a typical church, rather it would blend in with the neighborhood. Activities will be limited to twice a month, groups will be limited 12 people or fewer people at a time, and “as per code, no overnight camping nor lodging will occur in the church building. Parishioners will find accommodations at nearby approved lodging facilities.”
Looking forward to resuming the hearing and presenting the requested information, she said, “I bless my neighbors and this community and pray that I can be a blessing to them also!”