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Driftwood Key OK's dredging

DRIFTWOOD KEY — Even though there was an overwhelming response to its latest ballot issue on membership dues, Driftwood Key residents voted to pass it by a very narrow margin — 207 to 189.

Driftwood Key Club President Bruce Cosacchi said the voter turnout was the biggest in recent memory with 397 ballots cast out of 610 members.

Members will now pay $370 in dues, an increase of $148 from $222. The new fees include $172 for dues, $178 for harbor and dredging costs and $20 for building and maintenance fees.

Aside from helping maintain club properties, the funds will also put the association a step closer to finishing a project that has been on the books since December 2003 — the dredging of the entrance to the Coon Bay and the east bay.

The community received word from the Kitsap County Hearing Examiner Nov. 22 that dredging both locations would be identified as a maintenance dredge and exempt from a shoreline permit. However, depositing the sand from the dredging process within 200 feet of the shoreline is considered a substantial development and would require a permit. Because this part of the project was not exempt, the entire project would need a substantial development permit.

The examiner noted that if the group placed the dredged material beyond the shoreline, it will not need a permit for the actual project.

Cosacchi said the board decided not to appeal the decision because the examiner approved two out of the three components the board was initially fighting for — to dredge at minus-8 feet in the entrance channel and to be able to dredge the east bay, which hasn’t been done since 1963.

The only conundrum now is figuring out where to put the dredged material. Wherever it goes, the club will need a permit, but members want to be able to do it without needing something as laborious as conditional use permit.

“Our major thrust is to dewater without violating the Shoreline Management Act,” Cosacchi said, noting they will try to find a way to complete the project under an exempt status.

The next step is to find a place that is farther than 200 feet from the shoreline as a temporary location for the material, then wait for it to dry out before moving it to a permanent location.

Representatives from the county’s Department of Community Development and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife explained at a community meeting Dec. 7 how the county can work with the community on such projects without having to continually deal with the bureaucracy, Cosacchi said.

While there will still be studies and permits needed each time, it will be considered a maintenance dredge by the county and state as opposed to an entirely new project, Cosacchi said.

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