Jefferson commissioners approve Rocky Brook agreement change

Move preserves public access at Brinnon site, extends liability protection

PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County commissioners have approved a resolution to change the development agreement for the Rocky Brook Hydroelectric Facility.

The development agreement, a Shoreline Development Permit, was approved in 1986 by Jefferson County commissioners and allowed for construction of a hydroelectric facility at the Rocky Brook tributary near the Dosewallips River in Brinnon, according to Jefferson County Associate Lead Planner David Johnson.

The commissioners approved the resolution at its regular meeting Monday morning.

The resolution amends the wording of one of the four conditions that was determined at the time of the original agreement, which said that “[t]he public shall be permitted free and unencumbered access to Rocky Brook Falls at all times except during active maintenance, repair or removal of the facility.”

The state Supreme Court determined in the Camicia v. Howard S. Wright Construction Co. decision that public land that can by protected by the Recreational Immunity Act must have the ability to close off the land from the public — regardless if it is for maintenance, repair or other construction needs of the premises.

The commissioners were the only ones who could amend the agreement, as they were the ones who originally made it in 1986.

The mandated public access condition made it so Rocky Brook did not qualify for the protection offered by the Recreational Immunity Act, which only covers private land used publicly by voluntary means.

The Recreational Immunity Act says that landowners who open their land for outdoor recreational use, at no charge to the public, are free from liability from any injuries accidentally sustained while using the property, according to Johnson.

Rocky Brook is owned by the Rocky Brook Hydroelectric LP company and an individual named Dell Keehn, who are collectively known as “Rocky Brook” in the original agreement.

With this resolution, the agreement allows Rocky Brook to close when needed and fall under the qualifications of the Recreational Immunity Act, but will not close the facility from the public use, Johnson said.

During proposed repairs and renovations in 2018 at Rocky Brook, the facility relocated the outfall to a different spot on the tributary and upheld the four conditions of the Shoreline Development Permit of 1986, but the amendment was sought to keep the original agreement, but to also fall in line with the immunity act.

Rocky Brook’s location with the tributary, trail and falls were a point of concern for the county because until the property falls under the immunity act, the county could possibly be liable for injuries sustained by the public there, Johnson said.

________

Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected].

More in News

Seattle hospital to refuse some patients due to capacity

Harborview Medical Center in Seattle will temporarily… Continue reading

PHOTO BY: Susan Doupé
CAPTION: Priya Jayadev is the new executive director for Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County.
New executive director for Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County

Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County has hired Supriya “Priya” Jayadev as its… Continue reading

Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News
The Port Townsend City Council seeks to sell the Cherry Street property that had been barged over from Canada  five years ago to become affordable housing.
Port Townsend aims to sell Cherry Street housing project

Stalled for years, affordable housing project all but adandoned

Layla Franson, 15, and Jackson, her 10-year-old Quarter Horse, are competing in 4H at the Jefferson County Fair this weekend. Like many counties across the state, Jefferson County has seen a decline in the numbers of youths enrolled in 4H after the COVID lockdown and is actively seeking to reboot its program. (Paula Hunt/Peninsula Daily News)
Jefferson County Fair back after two-year hiatus

4H looks for bounceback after restrictions eased

Housing, opioids topics at county meetings

Meetings across Clallam, Jeffersom counties

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Fair Queen Allison Pettit, front, and Queen's Court Sophia Lawson, shown on Aug. 6 on their parade float in the Joyce Daze Wild Blackberry Festival, will preside over the Clallam County Fair starting on Thursday in Port Angeles.
Clallam County Fair back in 2022

Four days of grandstand events, music, food and fun start Thursday

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Scaffolding covers a section of the sidewalk in the 100 block of West First Street to support workers as they upgrade the the facade on Lee Plaza.
Affordable housing units get upgrades

Scaffolding in downtown Port Angeles evidence of one of several PHA projects

Lower Dungeness: Towne Road and Levee Trail closed

Towne Road and the adjacent Dungeness Levee Trail are currently… Continue reading

Most Read