Jefferson County Board of Commissioners chair Kathleen Kler

Jefferson County Board of Commissioners chair Kathleen Kler

Tribe, Jefferson County, developer open channels over proposed Brinnon resort

PORT TOWNSEND — A meeting Monday on a resort proposed in Brinnon accomplished its purpose of opening a clear channel of communication between the Port Gamble S’Klallam tribe and the Jefferson County government, according to participants.

The meeting, requested by the tribe, was meant to voice concerns about a proposed 252-acre master planned resort located near land granted to the tribe in the 1855 Treaty of Point No Point.

“We know now that our voices will be heard and our concerns shared although not necessarily met,” said Jeromy Sullivan, tribal chairman, after the meeting.

“But at least everyone knows what our problems are with certain aspects of the project.”

Statesman Group of Calgary, Alberta, Canada proposed the plan of constructing the resort in the Pleasant Harbor/Black Point area of Brinnon in 2006 and has sought a zoning change to allow its construction since that time.

Pleasant Harbor Resort

The proposed Pleasant Harbor Master Planned Resort would include 191 guest suites, an exercise center, a variety store, a convention center, a wedding chapel, a water slide, an amphitheater and zip lines, and other amenities.

During the process, the company has scaled down the original 18-hole golf course to nine holes.

The 80-minute meeting took place in commissioners’ chambers, which was filled to capacity by county staff and members of the public, joined later by representatives of Statesman Group, including CEO Garth Mann.

The tribe requested five actions, including stormwater and wastewater plans, and a biological inventory of all the plants, amphibians, birds and other species present in unique rock formations known as kettle ponds.

“We are trying to preserve resources, but we are not in the business of stopping growth,” Sullivan said.

“We just want to find the correct questions and get the correct answers.”

Sullivan said he wanted to “work to support growth and still keep the environment pristine.”

Staff meetings

An immediate result is a plan for the county and the tribe to meet on the staff level to discuss specific concerns, a process that could begin this week.

Both the county and the tribes said their previous communication hasn’t been direct with no adequate follow-up, so issues were ignored or abandoned.

During the meeting, representatives of both agencies said that meeting on the staff level to work on specific issues could break down the communication barriers.

“We are out of sync in this process, which is creating some of the anxiety that people have,” said District 3 Commissioner Kathleen Kler, the board chair.

Mann listened to the discussion between commissioners and tribal members before asking permission to address the group, asking for some private time between the three parties.

“We all want the same thing,” Mann said of the conservation goals.

“If we can just take 10 minutes so we can understand what the process may be, that would be helpful.”

Mann said Statesman has consistently provided what the county requested but called the process “frustrating.”

“We have been working on this for 10 years and are ready, willing and able to provide what is needed.” Mann said.

“It’s been an unusual process. We work all over the world and have never had one like this in terms of its complexity.”

Private meeting

Representatives of the county, the tribes and Statesman met privately after the public meeting in a meeting room adjacent to County Administrator Philip Morley’s office.

According to District 2 Commissioner David Sullivan, who attended the meeting, Mann outlined to the tribe all the changes made in the project in order to accommodate environmental concerns.

The meeting ended with the intention to set up further meetings between Statesman and the tribe, Sullivan said.

Roma Call, the tribe’s environmental coordinator, said the meeting was the first step toward further discussions.

“It was a positive meeting,” she said.

“We’ll just see where we can go from here.”

________

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

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