Public to get close-up view of 'pit-to-pier' project during open house today (Monday)

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT LUDLOW — An open house today will present information and take comment on a proposed project involving a 4-mile-long gravel and rock conveyor belt, processing facility and 998-foot pier on Hood Canal.

The public can make comments on a draft environmental impact statement on the proposed project, known as “pit-to-pier,” during the open house from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Bay Club, 120 Spinnaker Lane.

The public comment period ends Monday, Aug. 11.

The open house “will give people an opportunity to ask questions about what we are doing,” said Dan Baskins, project manager with Thorndyke Resources of Poulsbo, who plans to attend the meeting with one or two engineers and representatives of Jefferson County.

“Hopefully they would have read the [draft environmental impact statement] so they have some understanding of the project.”

Verbal comments will be recorded and written comments will be accepted.

No formal presentation or public statements are planned, according to Jefferson County Planning Director Stacie Hoskins.

The proposed conveyor belt would be built from an extraction area near the former Fred Hill Materials Shine pit to carry rock first to a processing facility and then to a Hood Canal pier.

The pier would serve both barges and ships, according to Thorndyke Resources.

At full production, expected 25 years after construction of the pier, the installation would load some 6.75-million tons (U.S. short) annually from the pier and would generate about 2,000 jobs, the company has said.

All of the comments will be incorporated into a final environmental impact statement.

That will be used to inform the public and the Jefferson County Hearings Examiner in consideration of a county shoreline conditional use permit for the proposed pier and loading dock and a zoning conditional use permit for the proposed conveyor to transport material to the pier.

A county planning department timeline estimates that the final environmental impact statement would be finished by Sept. 29. Public hearings would follow.

The hearing examiner decision could take place in late November, according to the timeline.

The company eventually must seek approval from the Army Corps of Engineers and area tribes, and acquire “about 19 permits and licenses from various [federal] agencies,” Baskins has said.

Permits needed from other agencies are not related to the environmental impact statement and will be addressed by those agencies, Hoskins said.

Also unrelated is a conservation easement between the state Department of Natural Resources and the Navy that prohibits industrial development along areas of Hood Canal, an agreement that Baskins has called “political.”

The pact between Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark and the Navy covers more than 4,800 acres of Hood Canal aquatic lands, in a strip of state subtidal lands stretching from the Hood Canal Bridge south to just below the border between Jefferson and Mason counties.

The Navy will pay DNR $720,000 for a 55-year easement.

It restricts development in the area around Naval Base Kitsap and gives the Navy unrestricted access to waters for it to conduct exercises that are crucial for military readiness and national defense, according to Naval Base Kitsap Commanding Officer Capt. Tom Zwolfer.

Thorndyke may appeal that agreement but has not done so, Baskins said.

The text of the 383-page draft environmental impact statement is available at http://tinyurl.com/PDN-Pit-to-Pier and http://tinyurl.com/PDN-draftstatement.

It also is available at the Jefferson County Department of Community Development, 621 Sheridan St., Port Townsend, or 360-379-4940.

Copies on a CD are available for $2.50 by phoning 360-379-4465 or emailing dwjohnson@co.jefferson.wa.us. Printed copies may be purchased at SOS Printing at 2319 Washington St., Port Townsend.

Emailed written comments are due by 5 pm. Aug. 11, while comments sent by the postal service must be postmarked that day and those hand-delivered must be received by 4:30 p.m. that day.

Emailed comments go to t-roc@co.jefferson.wa.us. They must include complete and current return mailing addresses.

Mailed or hand-delivered comments go to Thorndyke Resource DEIS c/o Jefferson County DCD, 621 Sheridan St., Port Townsend WA 98368.

For more information, see http://tinyurl.com/PDN-Thorndyke.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 03. 2014 10:04PM
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