PLVC MEETING TOMORROW August 6 – 3PM, Bay Club Tree Harvest Update
- Representatives of County, PLA and Ad Hoc Tree Harvesting Committees will be there to update you on this critical subject
- Your attendance will indicate your interest in the topic, and you are encouraged to make your feelings known to those involved
Ad Hoc Committees Activities
It has been three months since Jefferson County issued letters to PLA, Keith Guise and their logging contractor Cedarland Forest Resources notifying them that their commercial timber harvesting in Single Family Tract (SFT) and Open Space Reserve (OSR) zones within the Port Ludlow Master Planned Resort was in violation of applicable zoning laws. Since that time, SBCA, LMC and PLVC have all formed special committees to review the issues relating to the timber harvesting. The committees’ goal has been to seek negotiations with PLA and/or Jefferson County or other persons deemed appropriate regarding remedies for these violations or other adverse consequences of the harvesting. Each organization has sent formal letters to Jefferson County outlining its expectations for an acceptable resolution.
In a letter response to Jefferson County dated May 19, the attorney for PLA stated that timber harvesting was a long-standing practice in this area and offered several other arguments why the harvesting supposedly was not in violation of the zoning code, including that permits had been issued by the Washington Department of Natural Resources. There are over 500 additional acres, almost 23% of the entire Port Ludlow MPR, that potentially could be clear-cut.
PLA initiated a “dispute resolution” process under the terms of the Port Ludlow Development Agreement, calling for the parties to attempt to resolve the dispute by negotiation or mediation before resorting to litigation. Although the County had seemed poised to issue a letter to PLA about the timber harvesting along Cameron Drive and Argyle Lane in the “Recreation Area” zone (the golf course), upon receipt of the May 19 letter from PLA’s counsel the County apparently decided to put that letter on hold while the issues relating to the other timber harvesting were being worked out.
The three special committees , chaired by Dave Jurca of SBCA, Dave McDearmid of LMC and Bill Dean of PLVC, have been working in concert to analyze the applicable laws and contractual provisions of the Port Ludlow Development Agreement entered into between Jefferson County and PLA’s predecessor-in-interest (Pope) in May 2000. The committees’ positions and arguments have been presented to Jefferson County in several written submissions and at Board of County Commissioners meetings. The committee chairs have had multiple meetings with County officials and PLA. County Commissioner Kathleen Kler has visited the affected areas and attended the PLVC meetings on June 4 and July 2, where she answered questions from residents. She expressed her understanding of the residents’ concerns and pledged to work within the County processes to try to resolve the dispute.
The County and PLA have treated their negotiations as “confidential” and have not shared with the committee chairs the substance of those negotiations. Representatives of the Port Ludlow community are not being allowed to attend or participate in the discussions between the County and PLA, but the three committee chairs have met separately with PLA’s owner Randy Verrue on three occasions, the most recent being yesterday, August 4. At this time PLA is reserving further comment until it has received additional information from its attorney. Another meeting with Mr. Verrue is scheduled for next week. As far as we know, there have not been any substantive negotiations between the County and either Guise or Cedarland.
It is the committees’ position that under the Development Agreement and applicable law timber harvesting was not, and never should be, permitted within the MPR, except for the purpose of clearing land for residential development or other permissible uses under the MPR zoning code. This is the committees’ overarching concern, but two additional issues are being emphasized in the discussions with both PLA and the County. Those are remediation of the environmental impacts of the logging, including addressing both the visual blight and other adverse environmental impacts, and forfeiture of profits from the logging that was done in violation of applicable zoning restrictions.
The committees are encouraged that on July 13 the County authorized the retaining of a Seattle attorney to prepare an “opinion letter” on various issues relating to the logging. The committees have shared with the County’s attorney their analysis of the pertinent issues. The current expectation is that it will take at least a couple more weeks for the County’s Seattle attorney to render his opinion. The committees will keep you apprised as things develop.
August 5, 2015