Planning continues for new jail, Ferndale city government takes neutral stance on location

Published on Tue, Jul 2, 2013 by Ian Ferguson

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After Ferndale City Council had no opinion on the proposed county jail to be built west of LaBounty Road and north of Sunset Road in Ferndale, the planning and permitting process is moving forward smoothly, Sheriff Bill Elfo said.

Ferndale City Council met June 17 to discuss the proposed jail and determine their collective stance.

“Essentially, the council elected to take no position,” councilmember Mel Hansen said. “There was a motion to support the jail and a motion to oppose it. The motion to support it got onto the floor, but was rejected by a 6–0 vote.” Hansen was not present at the meeting.

Currently, environmental engineers from jail planning consultant Shockey Planning Group are evaluating the 40-acre site to determine whether it will suit the needs of the jail.

“It’s an ongoing study looking at how the jail will impact the site and to ensure that it will meet our standards,” Elfo said.

The review, called a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), piggybacks on an initial Environmental Impact Study (EIS) conducted on a different proposed jail site in 2010. If the new site passes environmental review, the county can move forward in purchasing the property.

A period inviting public comment on the scope of the review ended May 30. The city of Ferndale submitted a request that the EIS include a fiscal analysis of loss of property taxes to the city, a comparison of sales tax revenue between construction of a jail and construction of a manufacturing facility at the site, analysis of the change in surrounding property values and looks at how the jail would be funded.

County executive Jack Louws has earmarked $10,000 to conduct a study on the fiscal impacts to the city.

The engineering firm in charge of jail planning, Seattle-based DLR Group, presented images showing how the facility might be laid out. Four conceptual images show potential layouts with buildings for a sheriff’s office, warehouse, jail lobby, jail support area and jail housing all on one campus. DLR Group also released a planning agenda with an operational budget workshop to determine items included in the budget, and staff and non-staff jail costs, scheduled for July 13.