Tanglewood demolition waiting on permits

Island residents began tearing down iconic lodge without proper consent; only 1 wall remains

Staff writerFebruary 10, 2014 

After Pierce County’s building department ordered them to stop work, representatives from the Tanglewood Homeowners Association applied for the required permits and are now waiting to finish demolishing an iconic two-story lodge at the northern tip of the private island.

An application for a commercial demolition permit was submitted Jan. 28. That was the same day the county building inspector took a Pierce County Sheriff’s boat to the 18-acre island, located between Fox Island and the western shoreline of Gig Harbor, and posted the stop-work order in the presence of two Sheriff’s deputies.

Applications for an environmental checklist and shoreline exemption followed.

A half circle of white cinder block wall with a pile of rubble at its center is all that’s left of the building, used for decades as a youth camp.

It could be 45 days or more before the permit process concludes and work is authorized to resume.

Penalties against the property owners are still being assessed, but county officials have discussed doubling the application fees. That would amount to roughly $7,200.

It’s unknown if any fines or penalties would be issued by state and federal agencies.

Tanglewood Island representatives could not be reached for comment.

The News Tribune first reported on the unauthorized demolition on Tanglewood Island on Jan. 29. Since then, representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife contacted the county, Pierce County planner Ty Booth said last week.

The building’s demolition was notable among government regulators for multiple reasons.

The county viewed it as a blatant disregard of its rules, Booth said. Property owners had contacted the county over the years about what it would take to restore or tear down the structure. Those conversations made it clear permits were necessary for either action, Booth said.

The building’s proximity to Puget Sound — its foundation is on the beach — requires additional review by federal, state and local agencies to make sure work does not negatively impact the environment, Booth said.

The state Environmental Policy Act requires the county to notify other agencies, including area tribes. The county’s Shoreline Master Program stipulates any work done within 200 feet of the shoreline must first go through an exemption permit process.

The county has begun the environmental review process, which requires sending notice to federal, state and local agencies, including the tribes. Booth planned to send the notices Friday or Monday. Agencies have 30 days to respond.

In the meantime, demolition crews are not allowed to work unless the county determines a hazard exists on the site.

The demolition was noticeable to many in the Gig Harbor area because the structure has been a prominent part of the Tanglewood waterfront for almost 70 years. It is visible from the Fox Island Bridge.

Also known as the Tanglewood Island Lodge, the 14,000-square-foot circular building served as the great hall for a boys summer camp from 1946 to the 1970s. It later was used for private events, including a yacht club commodore’s ball, class reunions and weddings.

Brynn Grimley: 253-597-8467

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