Public records reveal shocking pattern of environmental recklessness by homebuilder Conner Homes
December 21, 2018
In October, we announced that we would be doing a sweeping public records request regarding Charlie Conner, one of the leaders of the anti-worker Freedom Foundation (Opt Out Today). In addition to guiding the Freedom Foundation’s failed assault on working people in Washington, Charlie also owns Conner Homes, a residential development company based in Bellevue.
We’ve scoured thousands of emails and permits between Conner Homes and the staff of local communities where Conner has been building across Western Washington, and what we’ve discovered in Conner’s track record is disturbing, and even dangerous. Building homes over industrially poisoned land, slashing acres of beloved neighborhood trees and allowing spills into protected wetland habitat are just a few of the shocking events we’ve uncovered.
We have also generated a list of all active and future Conner Homes projects, based on our public records requests and state registrations. Following, is the letter of warning that we will be sending to all residents near current and future Conner Homes projects as well as officials involved in the building process.
We can all agree that our neighborhoods are precious, and we are writing to you about protecting yours. This letter is a warning that a home builder with a track record of environmental recklessness will be coming to your neighborhood soon, if they are not there already. That developer’s name is Conner Homes.
When developers come to your neighborhood, you can expect traffic jams, road closures, truck exhaust, construction noise and dusty air. When Conner Homes comes to build in your neighborhood, you may be in for much more.
Our organization just completed a search of all city and county building records by Conner Homes in the last five years, and we felt it imperative to prepare people like you, who may be impacted soon. Here’s what you need to know about Conner Homes’ history of environmental negligence in neighborhoods just like yours:
- Willingness to build on poisoned ground: We all want to live in a home where we know that our children and pets are safe from industrial poisons, yet Conner Homes knowingly built a Renton subdivision on land that was poisoned from years of arsenic use. At the time of building, Charlie Conner (owner of Conner Homes) admitted that arsenic levels were still at 300 parts per billion, which scientists have determined can result in a range of ailments, including skin discoloration, stomach ache and diarrhea. Additionally, Conner’s property was near a Superfund site, whose land was soaked with years of creosote, a noxious lumber sealant.
- Clear-cutting neighborhood trees: The trees on our streets provide shade, character and habitat, but Conner Homes has shocked neighbors with massive losses of tree cover at his developments. In the town of Sammamish, citizens were outraged when Conner cleared 45 acres of beloved neighborhood woods, leading to neighbor protests at the work site. The woods were a protective buffer to adjacent Lake Sammamish and its rare run of spawning kokanee salmon. The city had passed a new more restrictive tree ordinance before the Conner Homes clear-cut, but Conner Homes decided to disregard the ordinance because the ordinance passed after their initial permit to build was filed. Clearly choosing the company’s convenience over neighborhood welfare.
- Spilling worksite debris into neighborhood wetlands and streams: Our wetlands are an essential habitat for wildlife, and a crucial filtration system for a healthy Puget Sound, yet Conner Homes has shown disregard for their protection while building. In the town of Edgewood, a washout from Conner’s construction site carried fill material into an adjacent sensitive natural area. Conner Homes’ overflow of imported fill material altered the channel of a stream, as well as inundating a wetland and its protective buffer. It took Conner Homes more than a year to attempt a mitigation of this event.
If, like us, you cherish the sanctity and benefits of the natural beauty of your neighborhood, it is not too late to act and protect yourselves from Conner Homes’ destructive behavior. We urge you to talk with your neighbors and contact your city council members, to demand caution and careful government oversight in all phases of Conner Homes’ projects in your neighborhood.
Your friends at the Northwest Accountability Project