According to Snohomish Health District Code, Title 1.2, Right of Appeals (Exhibit A), “any decision or order of the Health District with respect to applications made to the Health District or the revocation or suspension of a license or permit issued by the Health District may be appealed.” The appeals process includes a step 1 appeal, which is an administrative review performed by the Division Director, and a step 2 appeal, which shall be conducted by a hearing examiner. The decision of the Examiner shall be final and conclusive unless appealed by the appellant or Health Officer to the Board of Health.
Mr. Brad Whitsell is seeking after-the-fact approval of his on-site sewage system. His proposal was disapproved by Environmental Health staff on June 10, 2022. Mr. Whitsell appealed staffs’ decision in a step 1 appeal process, and on August 19, 2022, Environmental Health Division Director, Ragina Gray, denied the appeal. Mr. Whitsell appealed Director Gray’s decision through a step 2 appeal process, and on November 29, 2022, and December 2, 2022, the appeal was heard by Hearing Examiner Andrew Reeves of Sound Law Center. Hearing Examiner Reeves submitted his decision on January 23, 2023, and denied the appeal. On February 7, 2023, Mr. Whitsell submitted an appeal of the Hearing Examiner’s decision for Board of Health consideration.
The issue at stake with this appeal is whether or not the staff erred in denying the application submitted by Brad Whitsell to retroactively approve the connection of his single-family residence to a septic system on his property. Specifically, the appeal addresses whether the District erred in requiring the Appellant to satisfy the criteria for a setback reduction under Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 246-272A-0210(4)(c) that would allow for the minimum required 100-foot setback from the on-site septic system and an existing well to be reduced to a minimum 75 feet.
At this meeting, code states that “staff shall provide an oral summary of the decision, and respond to any questions of the Board. Except as requested by the Chair, no additional comments or testimony from the appellant, public, or witnesses shall be taken on the subject matter for purposes of the decision to be made by the Board at said meeting.”
The Snohomish County Board of Health has three options to address this appeal, as outlined in 1.20.080:
- Concur with the findings and conclusions of the Examiner and decline to hear an appeal.
- Determine to hear the appeal at a public hearing to be established at a later date.
- Remand a decision to the Hearing Examiner for further hearing and specifically identify for the Examiner the grounds for the remand.
If the Board chooses option (1), the Board’s decision shall be final and conclusive unless an application is made to a court of competent jurisdiction within 30 days. If the Board chooses option (2), a hearing shall be scheduled within 45 days. If the Board chooses option (3), the Board must identify grounds for the remand.