The small city of Ruston passed two new laws Tuesday night related to construction, partially in response to issues it has encountered with the developer of the urban village Point Ruston.
People who apply for permits now have a deadline if the city asks for more information on a permit request, and a specific list of items to include in the permit application. If the requirements aren’t met, a permit will expire or lapse instead of “lingering for months on end,” said city attorney Jennifer Robertson.
Before the code change, a person or company could apply for a permit in the city, then respond when or however it liked to any request the city might have made. The vagaries in the process have been part of the tension between Ruston and the developer of the $1.2-billion project on the contaminated site of the former Asarco smelter, half of which lies within Ruston.
The other change is that appeals of stop-work orders and notices of violation now will go to a hearing examiner, instead of the mayor and the city council.
The city has two such appeals pending now, council member Jim Hedrick said, both from Point Ruston. The city issued several stop-work orders in December and notices of violation in January for projects on the Ruston side of the development.
Council member Jane Hunt said the change was timely and appropriate.
The examiner will provide “a neutral unbiased opinion,” she said. “It’s not emotional.”
Both ordinances were approved on 5-0 votes.
Point Ruston’s legal representative Loren Cohen said Wednesday it was hard to judge how the new laws will affect the development.
The cities of Ruston and Tacoma are negotiating now on a possible interlocal agreement that could refine permitting for the entire project, ending the need for the developer to negotiate with two municipalities.