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Agreement will restore water rights to the city

The city got back the water rights from a McCormick Woods’ well — six years later.

During the June 25 meeting, the council unanimously approved an agreement with C&M Golf LLC that would restore the water rights to the city. A staff report stated that the water rights were assigned to C&M Golf through a mistake in the 2008 agreement.

In accordance with Department of Ecology requirements, the city must hold the Well 4B water rights, stated City Attorney Greg Jacoby. If the council refused to approve the agreement, the Department of Ecology would reduce the total amount of water that the city has the right to withdraw — from all of its wells — by 645 acre feet per year.

“We would lose 645 acre feet of water per year and wouldn’t be able to take it out of Well 9 and 10,” said Jacoby.

The well is a 400 gallon per minute — irrigation only — well that is owned and operated by C&M Golf, but is not physically connected to the city’s public water system.

The new agreement will protect the city’s continuing right to withdraw a total of 3,528 acre feet per year. The city’s Utility Committee recommended approval of the agreement.

“This is very valuable to us,” said Councilman Rob Putaansuu. “We want this excess water right that they don’t need.”

Putaansuu said the city attorney had to fix an agreement that shouldn’t have been made years ago.

Jacob said the city and C&M Golf agree that a mistake was made in the 2008 agreement that assigned the water rights to C&M Golf. He noted that recitals found in the old agreement provide a chronology of events that led to the water rights being assigned to C&M Golf in 2008. C&M Golf will have the perpetual use of 225 acre feet per year from the well without paying water rate consumption charges.

Jacoby said the agreement is the first of a two-step process. He said the city needs to meet with Department of Ecology officials and get their approval.

“We can’t have that discussion without first having the water rights,” Jacoby said.

Responding to statements made during comments by residents, Jacoby reminded council members that the issue of recusal can be presented by the public when that have a concern.

“Whether any council members decides to recuse themselves is completely up to the council member,” said Jacoby. “No one can require you to recuse yourself. It’s your decision.”

During comments by residents, Gil Michael requested that any council member who has received immunities, free and reduced golf, club, balls, food and drinks from any person or entity associated with or had business or personal relationships with C&M Golf should disclose and recuse themselves from voting on the agreement.

Michael asked that City Treasurer Alan Martin to calculate the value of the “water gift” to C&M Golf, because it wasn’t stated in the staff report. The fiscal impact was listed as “none.” He said there was information that has not been provided and the information that was included needs clarification and explanation.

Michael asked that the item be pulled from the agenda and that a public hearing be held to provide residents access to all documents pertaining to the agreement via the city’s website.

His requests were ignored by city officials.

Mayor Tim Matthes suggested that the city needs to meet with Department of Ecology officials before approving the agreement with C&M Golf. Matthes said he had concerns about the agreement and that it hasn’t been on the work study session for council members, outside of the Utilities Committee, to review the information.

“It won’t hurt to have a work study session so you can have your questions answered at length,” said Matthes. “Both new members (Bek Ashby and Jeff Cartwright) has not had a history or heard much about this.”

Putaansuu interrupted Matthes to call for the vote.

City Council Notes:

The council will hold a public hearing July 8 on proposed changes to the city’s marijuana business ordinance.

The city adopted the state Liquor Control Board rules, which restricts recreational marijuana businesses from operating within 1,000 feet of a child care center. But the definition of child care center is narrow and does not apply to residence-based day-care facilities, referred to as “family day care providers” by the state’s Department of Early Learning.

The proposed change would amend language to clarify that marijuana businesses would be restricted from operating within 1,000 feet of child-care centers, family care providers, nursery schools or preschools.

City Attorney Greg Jacoby said amending the ordinance would require a formal public hearing. It will be announced in the Port Orchard Independent, city website and at City Hall.

The council voted 6-1 to table the motion until the July 7 meeting. Councilman Fred Chang voted against tabling the motion.

In other action:

• The council unanimously approved a resolution to provide authority for the city to invest city funds in the Washington State Local Government Investment Pool (LGIP). The updated resolution is required for continued participation in the LGIP, which is a short-term cash fund offered to cities seeking short-term cash with low operating expenses.

• The council unanimously approved an agreement with the Port Orchard Independent as the city’s official newspaper. The city received two bids, one from the Independent and the other from the Kitsap Sun.

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