Tumwater officials await plan for damaged wetland near historic brewery

Tumwater community development is awaiting a mitigation plan for a damaged wetland near the historic Olympia brewhouse below Tumwater Falls, after an inspector discovered unpermitted work done in the area.

The property owner is George Heidgerken, who owns the former brewery warehouse and historic brewhouse north of Custer Way. Heidgerken bought the old brewhouse in 2010, including 32 acres of property that surround the site and two parking lots. The property is undergoing a feasibility study to determine whether it could be used as a craft brewing and distilling center.

Community Development Director Mike Matlock said Thursday a city stop-work order is in effect — it was temporarily lifted for erosion control so that soil could be protected from stormwater — and now the city is waiting for Heidgerken’s plan to address wetland protection.

The wetland is next to an access road that leads to the brewhouse, Matlock said.

In the fall, the city received a complaint about a pipe pumping water into a moat around the building, which turned out to be an original feature of the historic brewhouse, Matlock said.

But when the city inspector visited the property in response to the complaint, the inspector discovered a much larger issue: a 5,000-square-foot wetland had been filled in with gravel, ostenstibly to provide access for a vehicle set to drill groundwater monitoring wells.

Heidgerken said Thursday that the vehicle couldn’t back up because it was solid mud, so they put down some gravel.

“We didn’t think we had done anything wrong, but that’s the way it works,” Heidgerken said. “We still like working with them,” he said about Tumwater city officials.

The stop-work order was issued Oct. 29, Matlock said. This news was first reported by local blogger Janine Unsoeld.

The city also sent Heidgerken an enforcement letter, and the city has met with him, Matlock said.

“We’ve agreed to disagree that it’s even a wetland,” Matlock said. But Matlock said Heidgerken has been cooperative and will pay for the mitigation, which is “not inexpensive.”

The city will work with Heidgerken, the state Department of Ecology and the Army Corps of Engineers to develop the plan, he said.

At a minimum, according to city code, the damaged wetland requires a 2-to-1 replacement ratio, Matlock said. That means a damaged 5,000-square-foot wetland must be replaced with a 10,000-square-foot wetland, he said.