The first meeting of a committee to form a new Vashon-Maury Island Community Council last month opened to comments from islanders about how they wish such a group would serve the community and represent their interests. But one topic that emerged again turned some heads in the audience.
John Taylor, the director of the King County Department of Local Services, shared in a testy exchange with islander Jim Garrison, who owns the Burton Water Company, that the contractor and subcontractor involved in Vashon’s asphalt millings controversy are facing lawsuits.
Millings — ground-up asphalt removed from the surface of the road before a new layer is poured — are widely used in paving projects, and stockpiles were generated during King County Road’s highway resurfacing project in 2018 led by Icon Materials, the contractor hired to complete the work. But Vashon’s designation as a critical aquifer recharge area restricts how millings can be used on the island, and some islanders fear that leaching may contaminate Vashon’s groundwater.
Stockpiling the material is subject to grading and stormwater codes, as well as zoning restrictions, and private use of millings requires a permit.
Garrison, as well as members of the Vashon-Maury Island Groundwater Protection Committee, raised concerns at the time that the presence of millings used at Misty Isle Farms, in the presence of the Burton Water Company watershed, could have grave consequences for the health of the watershed.
At the meeting, Taylor said that the county successfully removed millings on the highway and the county’s Mileta Pit in the days and weeks that followed their use, followed by Misty Isle Farms, which was excavated in the winter, he said. What remains, said Taylor, are millings sold to private property owners by highway project subcontractor Doug Hoffmann of D&R Excavating, as well as a stockpile on his property.
“He’s been sued, the contractor that the county contracted with has been sued, there’s sub suits going on, there’s code enforcements against 12 people on this island who took the material. So the county has done an awful lot,” Taylor said in response to Garrison’s claim that county officials had not listened to the objections he raised over the millings and failed to respond to his inquiries.
Taylor added that he and the local services department have spent “hundreds of hours” trying to rectify the situation, one that involved multiple stakeholders.
In a phone conversation, Jim Chan, director of the Permitting Division for local services, said the county is engaged in legal action on the millings on Vashon, adding that part of that legal action involved Hoffmann, but was unable to comment further as the litigation is ongoing. He noted that the county has recently taken an additional enforcement action on Hoffmann’s property concerning a code violation for grading activity that is occurring there, issuing first a citation and, last month, a stop-work order. Hoffmann is appealing the violation, said Chan. The violation is before the King County Examiner and could result in civil penalties.