Editor's note: This column is an updated version of the column that is published in the Nov. 23 North Kitsap Herald.
We are members of the North Kitsap 99%, a group of Kitsap County citizens who meet on a regular basis to self organize into grassroots action with the intent of making more peaceful, positive and sustainable choices for ourselves, our community and the environment in which we live.
We were among a group of citizens that recently expressed concerns to the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners about the inclusion of a proposed development for Port Gamble as a Limited Area of More Intense Rural Development, or LAMIRD, in the Shoreline Master Program update for Kitsap County. The proposed development would have placed an urban-like complex, including a mix of homes, commercial buildings, a hotel, roads, dock-related activities, and parking lots on the shoreline of Port Gamble Bay. This bay is among the most ecologically and culturally rich bays in Puget Sound.
It is now apparent that the Board of Commissioners has decided to exclude any project-specific wording describing the proposed Port Gamble development plans from the updated SMP. We applaud the commissioners for their willingness to listen to the citizens of Kitsap County. We join with others in looking forward to seeing a revised SMP in which all references to Port Gamble development project plans are removed. Future development of Port Gamble can follow the normal process of public review and governmental permitting.
The proposed Port Gamble development poses numerous challenges. Some of the most severe include its location in a FEMA Flood Hazard Zone, the lack of basic sewage treatment and drinking water facilities, and its proximity to critical habitats for threatened salmon species and important herring populations. Furthermore, in reviewing the evolution of county documents since the 1999 declaration of Port Gamble as a Rural Historical Town, we saw evidence that the county may have lost sight of its own initial objectives. There is absolutely no historical precedent for these structures on the site of the former mill on the shoreline of Port Gamble Bay.
On the cultural level, we were shocked that the county planning efforts seemed to agree with the concept that the historical aspects of the development plan should reach back only to the start of the town by a commercial operation that essentially stole what was the home of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe for more than a millennium.
Again, we thank the Board of Commissioners for recognizing, that we, the citizens, are responsible for protecting our local waters. We hope that involved citizens and our Kitsap County representatives can continue to determine what is good for our local waterways rather than designing elaborate schemes and tradeoffs (which will look like buy offs to future generations) for mitigation of known or unforeseen consequences of construction on our shorelines. We should learn from history and not make short-sighted exceptions to the rules and regulations in the SMP designed to protect us all.
North Kitsap 99%: Marilyn Bode, Kingston; Mary Gleysteen, Kingston; Baker Stocking, Poulsbo; Bert Jackson, Kingston; Mark Barabasz, Hansville; Craig Jacobrown, Indianola; and Bruce McCain, Suquamish