PLA and members of the VIllage Council, SBCA and LMC have received a letter from the Jefferson County Dept of Community Development dated May 7. 2015, informing PLA’s recent Timber Harvesting within Port Ludlow violates County Code and was not a permitted activity. The timber activity occurred in areas within the MPR that are zoned Open Space and Residential.
You can read the letter for yourself right here:
May 7, 2015
Diana Smeland Port Ludlow Associates 70 Breaker Lane Port Ludlow WA 98365
Re: Recent Unlawful timber harvests Offer of Settlement, ER 408 applies
Dear Ms. Smeland:
The County has learned that Port Ludlow Associates (“PLA”), has, in violation of the Jefferson County Code, including but not limited to Title 17 of the County Code, harvesting timber on the following parcels of land located within the Master Planned Resort or “MPR.”
- Parcel Number 821 211 003 – 65.25 acres – MPR-OSF zone
- Parcel Number 821 164 002 – 34.8 acres – MPR-OSF zone
- Parcel Number 821 172 001 – 31.5 acres – MPR-SFT zone
- Parcel Number 821 083 006 – 6.3 acres – MPR-SFT zone
Because these parcels are located within the MPR and since they are zoned pursuant to Title as either MPR-SFT (MPR-Single Family Tract) or MPR-OSF (MPR-Open Space) the timber harvest was not a permitted activity or use and constitutes a violation of the County Code and technically a misdemeanor pursuant to County Code 1.01.160. With respect to the MPR-SFT timber harvest the related DNR permit does NOT indicate PLA intended to place residences there, meaning it was not a conversion option harvest.
The County acknowledges that PLA immediately stopped the timber harvest when told that such activity was in violation of the County Code (on May 2, 2015).
While the County has various enforcement tools available to it in common-law and in the County Code at Chapter 18.50 JCC, the County writes to suggest a different path to resolution based, in part, on County Code Section 18.50.110, a copy of which is attached. That Code section speaks of civil penalties of $100 per day for each violation and states they would be recovered from the violator “by legal action filed by the prosecuting attorney.”
There is, however, a second method described in Section 18.50.110 (1)(e) for measuring the quantity of the penalties the county would be entitled to recover. Certain violations which cause “significant damage” as defined by acts which included “clearing of trees’ may accrue penalties “at an amount reasonably determined by the administrator to be equivalent to the economic benefit that the violator derives from the violation.” This amount can be equated to “the value received by the violator.”
In this particular case the value received by the violator would be whatever net proceeds flowed to PLA from the sale of the timber harvested. In sum, the net amount garnered by PLA from the illegal timber harvest is the outside limit of the penalty the County might recover.
The County now makes a formal request of PLA for release of the information or records that would reveal the net amount to the State Dept. of Revenue the gross income and expenses incurred in conducting the timber harvest and would accept those records as proof PLA from this timber harvest.
The County is, however, willing to forgo any litigation if PLA will agree to undertake and implement the following action items or equivalent expenses such that the total expenses incurred by PLA for these three remedial measures (or any substitutions) is substantially equivalent to the net proceeds PLA obtained from the unlawful timber harvest. The County proposes:
- PLA create, construct or install on behalf of the South Bay Condominium Association (“the SBCA”) or the related homeowners’ associations in the South Bay an amenity, improvement, structure or infrastructure having a value in labor and materials of not less than Twenty Thousand Dollars) ($20,000.00) or that portion of the PLA net proceeds left over after the other two remedial measures are accomplished, whichever is greater. Perhaps the SBCA has a wish list already of items it would like PLA to undertake and complete. Perhaps this would lead to completion of a project that would benefit the entire MPR community.
- Plant mature trees (at least eight feet in height) of a native species at all locations where residences or plats where residences might be built abut the area where the timber harvesting occurred, doing so at a time that best guarantees the success of those trees. These mature trees should constitute a buffer of not less than 25 feet in width at locations where the clear-cut abuts residences or platted residential plats. If a forester would propose a different scheme or buffer width to achieve the hiding of the clear-cut from the residences that would be acceptable too.
- Plant seedlings at all locations where the timber harvesting occurred which are not covered by the second of these three requests again doing so when the climate and weather is most beneficial to such a process.
The County has listed above a proposed minimum expense amount intended to reflect the severe impact the illegal timber harvest has had on the aesthetics of persons living near it and remains open to a different number if that different number bears a substantial similarity to the revenue PLA obtained from the timber harvest.
With this letter the County asks that PLA make amends, if you will, to the South Bay residents and those living near the Oak Bay timber harvest. The County would be open to a different method to arrive at the same result.
Very truly yours, Carl Smith, DCD Director
CC: all with enclosures SBCA LMC PLVC David Wayne Johnson, planner David Alvarez, Chief Civil DPA Philip Morley, County Administrator