Private dock is denied by Hearing Examiner

PORT GAMBLE — After traveling precariously through the whitecaps of a public storm, a private dock proposed by a couple in Port Gamble was sunk by Kitsap County Hearing Examiner Stephen K. Causseaux Jr. July 31, after testimony and evidence from a June 13 hearing were reviewed.

The project, which has been in the permitting process for several years, proposed a 220-foot private dock which would be used for small boats, dinghies and recreation. It has been a point of concern for the Friends of Port Gamble Bay and the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, but applicants Charles and Sondra Peters maintained the structure would not be detrimental to the bay.

“Well, obviously we’re very happy about it,” said FOPGB member and Port Gamble resident Gwenn Thomas. “There is an appeal period, and these types of things can go on for a while. We’re hoping it is all in the past and the Peters are going to try something more environmentally friendly.”

Causseaux also ruled the Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance issued Feb. 8 be sent back to the county environmental office for further review.

“The environmental official should consider alternatives to a dock where said structure will be used to launch kayaks and dinghies as opposed to serving as a moorage for a larger vessel,” Causseaux wrote in his ruling. “Alternatives could include a marine railway or large wheeled cart.”

Phone messages left at the Peters’ residence were not immediately returned.

“It is my understanding that if the Peters choose to appeal the decision, they would have to do so directly to the county commissioners,” said Kitsap County Department of Community Development shoreline planner Lisa Lewis. The proponents have until Aug. 13 to appeal the decision made by Causseaux. “The Peters can submit another permit application to consider an alternative to water access, such as a marine railway or large wheeled cart.”

The FOPGB and the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe appealed the Mitigated Determination of Non-significance after it was approved, and in April the DCD made a staff recommendation limiting the dock in length to 100 feet. The Peters felt this decision would cause much more environmental damage than the longer pier.

“The request for a shoreline substantial development permit to allow construction of a 220-foot long, 160-foot long or 100-foot long pier, ramp and floating structure is hereby denied,” Causseaux wrote in his decision.

“I think that’s unfortunate that this was something we had to formally get an attorney to help us argue against something too large and too inappropriate for the bay,” said Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribal Chairman Ron Charles. “I hope that we can all agree as neighbors that something like this was really not appropriate for the bay. Like I said, it was much too large for Port Gamble Bay.”

The dock could have adversely affected the tribe’s fishing in the area, and a tribal fisherman testified at the hearing about how the dock could impact its activities.

Thomas also added this pier could have set a dock precedent for both Port Gamble Bay and other areas. She said if it was constructed, several other residents in the area may have been encouraged to build as well, ruining the otherwise preserved bay.

“I’m hoping it will be known as one of those big things,” she said. “That’s why so many people were at the hearing. We knew if the dock went forward, other people would try for similar docks.”

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