Shorter dock could still make waves

PORT GAMBLE — It would be about half the size, but the controversy surrounding a proposed private dock on Port Gamble Bay is bigger than ever.

The dock, originally planned to stretch 220 feet from the bay’s western shore, would have to be reduced to 100 feet to comply with Kitsap County Code. County staff made the recommendation April 23 following a public outcry to a Mitigated Determination of Non-significance, issued Feb. 8. Roughly 175 letters and e-mails were received by the county between Feb. 8 and Feb. 26 from concerned residents.

But despite the reduction, neighbors are still concerned about the environmental, scenic and water-use impacts. Furthermore, those proposing the dock are also displeased with the decision.

“First of all, it was a big surprise when the county came out with their staff report,” said dock applicant Charles Peters. “We saw it three working days before the hearing. I had the county staff out here so they could see the appropriate tide levels... At that time I felt they were supporting the rationale I had used. So I was startled, to say the least, when they made their staff report just days before the hearing.”

Hoping the Kitsap County Hearing Examiner will rule in their favor during a hearing slated for June, the Friends of Port Gamble Bay and the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe will continue their appeals against the Peters’ dock, regardless of its length.

“I do not think the 100-foot dock is good at all,” said Port Gamble resident Chuck Holland. “Besides the sensitive marine habitat it would hurt, it will ruin adjoining property owners’ views.”

“As a part of the (State Environmental Policy Act) determination the dock as proposed could not meet some of the SEPA codes,” said Kitsap County Department of Community Development shoreline planner Lisa Lewis. “The only way it could be built is if it’s 100 feet. That’s the longest it could be and meet the requirements.”

“Staff is recommending the overall (pier and floating dock) length be reduced to 100 feet, minimizing impacts to scenic values and established marine uses,” the DCD recommendation stated. “Staff is recommending a maximum length of 100 feet in order to balance the applicant’s goals with the Shoreline Management Master Program.”

The dock would still have an impact and would affect too many people in the area, said Port Gamble resident Gwenn Thomas. The area is used for numerous water activities, and the pier would adversely impact them.

“Of anyone that I have had contact with I don’t know of a anyone that thinks a 100-foot dock is any more acceptable than a (220)-foot dock,” she said. “It will still impede navigation, fishing, kayaking, water skiing and beach walking. The beach is very pristine and just the presence of a 100- or (220)-foot dock will change that forever.”

Peters said he is analyzing the tides in an effort to support the longer dock proposal. With plans to moor a small boat there, around the size of a jet ski he said, the shorter dock could do more harm to the environment than the longer one.

The issue was going to be reviewed and decided upon at an April 26 Hearing Examiner’s hearing, but the Peters asked for additional time to discuss the revised dock proposal with their lawyer, Lewis said. The hearing has been tentatively rescheduled for 9 a.m. June 13, though the date could change to accommodate different lawyers’ schedules.

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