City, Liberty Bay Marina work to make uses legit

POULSBO — The city’s planning department is working with the owners of Liberty Bay Marina to finally right some long-standing wrongs.

Liberty Bay Marina applied to amend its concomitant agreement with the city, which is a type of re-zoning process, to officially allow commercial use of the former Marine Science Center at the marina.

The marina was built over a period of several years, said city planner Keri Weaver, but was approved in 1982. The marina is in a commercial zone, but the original owner, Earl Miller, “built stuff he wasn’t supposed to build,” Weaver said.

When the original Marine Science Center vacated the space in 1991, Miller converted the building into office space, without city permits or even knowledge. Nothing was done until about 2002, when the current owners — Lighthouse Properties — worked with their tenants to regulate traffic flow and ensure low-impact parking. Weaver said the city hasn’t received a complaint in the past 10 years, and the current owners “innocent purchasers” of the site’s issues.

Ralph Swanson, director of operations for Lighthouse Properties, said he didn’t want to comment during negotiations. He and Weaver said that nothing located at the site currently will change.

“That’s our whole objective, we want to operate exactly as we are today,” Swanson said.

Weaver agreed, “We see this as a positive, it’s a win-win. The marina is being a great neighbor, we are really trying to help everyone.”

However, the marina applied for the amendment to the agreement to make their current uses as legal as possible because of the city’s Shoreline Management Program. Marina representatives realized since their building was a non-conforming use, and commercial site working without a permit, they would be unable to rebuild if disaster struck.

The city passed the Shoreline Management Program May 2, regulating residential and commercial buildings within 200 feet of Liberty Bay.

“No development is going to be required to be moved, we’re maintaining the status quo, trying to make everything that’s out there legit,” Weaver added.

The application for the amendment will undergo a SEPA determination by the Planning Department, and go before the city’s Planning Commission and the county hearing examiner before the City Council’s final determination. Weaver doesn’t expect the application to be on the council’s agenda for a few months.

The public can review the application and make comments through Monday. The application is available at City Hall, 200 NE Moe St.


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