Decision pending on Gamble Bay dock

PORT ORCHARD — A proposed private dock continued to float despite the hail of testimony against it Wednesday during a Kitsap County public hearing.

Hearing Examiner Stephen K. Causseaux Jr. allowed nearly the entire day for discussion on a dock project submitted by Port Gamble residents Charles and Sondra Peters.

Attorneys, dock designers, biologists, landowners and fishermen comprised the roughly 40 people in attendance during the five and a half hour hearing in the Kitsap County Board of County Commissioners’ chambers.

After taking into consideration all of the information presented, Causseaux ruled to leave the hearing file open, allowing State Environmental Policy Act county coordinator David Greetham to resolve a SEPA concern about the county, recommended length of the dock, 100-feet compared to the original 220 feet the Peters designed. The ruling also allows Greetham to examine whether or not additional environmental research is required regarding the dock’s potential impacts.

“Once the file is closed, the hearing examiner takes all information in the file and presented at the hearing into consideration and issues a decision within 30 days,” said DCD shoreline planner Lisa Lewis Thursday. “Yesterday’s hearing went very well. All who testified did an excellent job presenting their viewpoints.”

Dock proponent and applicant Charles Peters focused on how the shortened structure would actually exacerbate environmental problems because the dock would rest on oyster beds during low tide. He maintained he had not received a copy of the new SEPA determination for the 100 foot dock and, as a result, had missed the 14-day appeal period. Greetham asserted a copy was sent to Peters’ lawyer with enough time to appeal.

Causseaux made it clear, at that time, the length was set at 100 feet.

“I’m undone,” Peters replied. Most of his testimony was contesting the shorter dock. “I’d like to go off the record then and make my presentation of the length... The purpose of this project is to facilitate recreation.”

Causseaux allowed Peters to discuss the length concerns briefly, and later ruled Greetham should look into allowing more time for appeal. That decision should be made Monday.

The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, which appealed the project after a Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance was issued Feb. 8, had not only its attorney Lauren Rasmussen, from the Seattle-based office of Gendler and Mann, LLP, but tribal fisherman Fred Fulton Jr. on hand to reveal how the dock would impact tribal fishing.

“First of all, the fish come right along the west side of the bay,” he said. Tribal fishermen cast 300-foot nets, stretching about 150 feet from the shoreline, in that area to wait for salmon. “Our fishing areas are limited. With a 100-foot dock, our net would only stretch out 50 feet beyond it.”

Essentially the salmon would swim around the dock and continue forward without moving back to the shore and into the nets, Fulton said. Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribal habitat biologist Hans Daubenberger presented the potential harm the dock could cause salmonoids and herring spawning in the bay.

The Friends of Port Gamble Bay, a group which also appealed the dock, had its attorney, Jeffery Eustis of the Seattle-based office of J. Richard Aramburu, and several Port Gamble Bay shoreline landowners speak on their behalf. Some, especially the environmental concerns, overlapped, but residents did reveal the view and the recreation of the bay would be impacted by the project.

“The testimony was interesting,” said FOPGB member Gwenn Thomas Thursday, who lives across the street from the Peters. “Everybody substantiated everybody else... (Charles) and Sondra are really nice people, and I think they realized it’s nothing personal, we just don’t want their dock. We’re hoping they might to do something more environmentally-friendly instead.”

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