PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County commissioners and planning commissioners took a look at a draft development agreement for the long-planned resort in Brinnon this week.
The proposed Pleasant Harbor Resort, which would be on 252-acres on the Black Point Peninsula 2 miles south of Brinnon, has been controversial since it was first proposed in 2006.
The plan has been reduced for environmental and cultural concerns, said Patricia Charnas, director of the county Department of Community Development.
“The original Master Planned Resort shrunk from 1,200 [residential] units to the 890 you see,” she told commissioners Tuesday. “The golf course was reduced from 18 holes to nine.”
Charnas said there will be a public hearing, though a date hasn’t been set. Charnas recommended that when a public hearing is set, the comment period be longer than usual. She suggested 60 days so that there is plenty of time for public review of all documents and ample time to provide comment.
One planning commission member questioned why the draft development agreement allows 890 units when the planning commission had previously agreed on about 560 units. That question wasn’t answered.
Charnas said the county has worked with the developer — Statesman Corp. of Calgary, Alberta — on provisions to ensure that wildlife resources are not negatively impacted, to make sure water quality is monitored and that high water quality is ensured. Other provisions recognize Native American tribal treaty rights, she said.
The area of the proposed resort was previously developed as an RV park with more than 500 spaces. It now stands empty.
Though there has been work to mitigate the environmental impacts, members of the Sierra Club and other organizations say there hasn’t been enough done to mitigate the negative effects of having a large resort on the Hood Canal.
Several people stood outside the Jefferson County Courthouse on Tuesday and protested the development.
“While we understand the developers have made changes that mitigate the impact of the development, such as reducing the golf course from 18 holes to nine and lowering the number of proposed building units, these important changes are not enough in order to lower the increased impact on the land, water and wildlife,” Cherri Mann, representing the Sierra Club’s North Olympic Group, said during public comment.
She said the Sierra Club is concerned about sewage treatment, well systems, the aquifer and the impact 4,100 cars would have on the Hood Canal.
Mann said there could be a potential increase in nitrogen problems and dead zones — low-oxygen areas — in the Hood Canal and that the club is also concerned about shellfish beds.
Mann said the top concern is what the development would mean for Black Point’s kettle ponds, unique ponds formed by retreating glaciers which are of cultural significance to area tribes.
“The geological, historical, cultural and — most importantly — the environmental significance of the ponds, raises enough concern that the Sierra Club believes it should not proceed as now planned,” she said.
Charnas said the county met with representatives of the Port Gamble S’Klallam and Skokomish tribes separately last week to discuss the draft plan.
The Port Gamble S’Klallam expressed concern over the project’s impacts to shellfish and to areas with cultural significance, Charnas said.
The Skokomish and Port Gamble D’Klallam disagreed on what should be done with the kettles, she said.
“The Skokomish think the way to preserve any cultural resources associated with the kettles is to fill the kettles with water to protect the resources,” she said.
“The Port Gamble S’Klallam tribe wishes the developer to keep them as they are now.”
The draft development agreement required the developer to preserve at least one kettle and to consult with the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe to come up with a kettle management plan that includes removing invasive vegetation and installing educational signs that explain the significance of the kettles to native people.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.