Last Saturday, April 20th, I interviewed Joseph Remenar about his dilemma. In 2007, Joe Remenar constructed a 60 ft. by 120 ft. pond, on a sloped portion of the field within the 3.5 acre lot he purchased. Recently Mr. Remenar had contracted a local construction company and asked that they get any needed permits to construct a 24 ft. by 24 ft. pole building, a shed, for his tractor and other personal property. During this process the Whatcom County Planning Department noted that the aerial photo showed a pond on the property that the contractor Joe had hired to request a permit to construct the pole building, located on Mr. Remenar’s property. The Whatcom County Planning Department head, Lynn Morgan-Hill, sent a letter to Mr. Remenar, demanding that he contact one of the contractor’s provided from a 3 page list, as enclosures, to her letter that demanded he have his illegal pond filled in.
Before I continue with the rest of the story I’d like to share a little bit about Joe Remenar;
Mr. Remenar, originally from the East Coast of the United States, had served as a Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutor, specializing in drug trafficking both domestic and internationally. In Mr. Remenar’s career, he had the task of prosecuting people and making certain that he followed the law and applied common sense treatment to all of his cases, especially to those who were being criminally accused.
At the time Mr. Remenar purchased his home and property in Whatcom County, his title insurance did not declare that there were any wetlands on the property. After receiving the letter from Ms. Morgan-Hill, Mr. Remenar contacted her and asked why he had to fill-in his pond? Joe expressed his desire to do what would be legally required of him to keep the pond, because he believed the pond was an asset to his property, the County and to the wildlife that had established the pond as a feeding and nesting sanctuary. As Joe attempted to communicate this to Ms. Morgan-Hill, of Whatcom County Planning, she rebutted him that the County is very concerned about bird flu and invasive toads. Mr. Remenar stated to me that; “At this point in the conversation I realized that Ms. Morgan-Hill was not going to apply common sense and work with me to properly establish a permanent fix to keep the pond on my property and the wildlife enhancement in my residence.”
This story may seem like sour grapes to some, but the real story is not just the ridiculousness of destroying something that does not harm the local environment. It is my desire that the reader understand that Mr. Remenar and his wife moved here because they fell in love with Whatcom County. The one statement Joe shared with me that spurred my asking him to share his story were these two comments; “I’ve dealt with criminals better than I was treated by Lynn Morgan-Hill, of the Whatcom County Planning Department.” And, “My wife and I do not know if we want to continue to live in Whatcom County if this is they way the local government treats their residents and property owners.”
At this time there has not been a permanent resolution to Mr. Remenar’s issue, but I do trust that the Whatcom County Executive and the Whatcom County Planning Department will come to their senses and work with Mr. Joe Remenar (and all Whatcom County property owners) to do what’s right. To do what’s the obvious answer to anyone with an ounce of common sense and act like the public servants that they are. That they serve the people of Whatcom County, in a respectful manner that exemplifies honor and commitment to their residents.
Please enjoy the picture that Joe has shared with me of the recent additions to his pond.
I’ve also included a new link to the Saturday Morning Live program from April 20th, 2013 with Joe Remenar sharing his story.
And, a link to the recent “Freedom Foundation,” publication of Joe’s Story; “Whatcom County destroys the Environment to Protect It.”
~ Kris Halterman