Pit-to-pier draws letter of concern from Navy

SHINE — Fred Hill Material’s pit-to-pier project has been the basis for many debates and objections from residents in Kitsap and Jefferson counties, and now in a letter to the Jefferson County Department of Community Development, the United States Navy has made it clear it is also not in favor of the proposed project.

Having adamantly opposed the plan since 1999, the Navy once again reiterated several points of concern in a letter sent during a public comment period that ended Oct. 5, and included a public meeting Sept. 27 at Fort Worden State Park.

“I don’t know how it will affect the outcome, the county is in the process of public scoping,” said Naval Base Kitsap Environmental Director Greg Leicht. “The issues we identified are within the scope of the (Environmental Impact Study) in terms of outcomes the EIS does address.”

The project would essentially construct a four-mile mining conveyor belt designed to move gravel and sand from the Shine Pit to a 1,000-foot dock, which if built would be located near Thorndyke Bay, to be loaded on barges and ships of different sizes. FHM has estimated the mine could provide enough materials to keep the conveyance system moving for at least four decades and would remove potentially 6.75 million tons of rock every year.

The letter was written by Captain R.S. Tanaka Oct. 3, and listed vessel traffic safety, security, potential for great damage, environmental balance in Hood Canal, potential for environmental damage, encroachment noise and access encroachment as concerns the Navy hopes Jefferson County DCD officials will examine in the EIS process. Leicht said in the past, FHM has made an effort to give tours of its facilities to different Navy officials.

“The county is happy to get a comment from the Navy,” said Jefferson County DCD development review associate planner Michelle Farfan. “The county was glad to see a response from the military, but it will not affect the county’s decision to go forward. The (State Environmental Policy Act), is not an approval or decision, it’s a process.”

FHM project manager Dan Baskins said the letter revealed nothing new as far as how the Navy felt about the project, and it doesn’t affect the EIS process other than to alert Jefferson County to the military’s issues regarding the pit-to-pier plan. He said the meeting also didn’t bring to light any new concerns, the only surprise was the lack of attendance by residents. About 250 people attended.

“In terms of how it impacts us, it doesn’t in terms of where the process is at right now,” Baskins said. “It’s valid at this point to have the conversation out there addressed in the scoping process. The project will address those concerns. It’s pretty straight forward, and we didn’t expect any less from the Navy.”

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