Development in downtown Gig Harbor has been a controversial topic among local residents, who express concern that the historic, small town feel of the city will be lost with increased development.
Among those developments that have concerned Gig Harbor citizens is the proposed One Harbor Point development agreement from the Ben B. Cheney Foundation, which made its first official appearance at the City Council Planning and Building Committee on Monday.
More than 100 Gig Harbor residents overflowed from the Council chambers to hear the presentation and also express their displeasure at the lack of availability for public comment with signs raised during the meeting bearing quotes from the Simon & Garfunkel song “The Sound of Silence.”
The pre-initiation meeting, held in a workstudy format, is designed to allow committee members — Councilmembers Rahna Lovrovich, Paul Kadzik and Steven Ekberg (absent at Monday’s meeting) — the opportunity to consider the development agreement application in order to make recommendations to the full City Council. These recommendations include what other commissions and appointed boards should participate in the negotiations, if the development agreement is initiated by the Council.
Public comment at a pre-initiation meeting is not typical, Kadzik said, because the committee is not taking any formal action. Instead, public comment will be included in the next step of the newly adopted development agreement process at an open house scheduled for May 24, which will be held prior to consideration of the agreement by the full City Council.
An overview of the project was presented by Senior Planner Peter Katich, followed by a presentation from Jon Graves of Jon Graves Architects and Planners, the project consultant and ownership representative.
One Harbor Point is a proposed residential development located on three sites east of Soundview Drive and south of the Soundview Drive and Harborview Drive intersection. The development agreement would allow for the construction of 35 dwelling units in 10 townhouse-style structures on the upland triangular side of the property and three single family dwellings on the waterfront. The second waterfront site, containing the Boat Barn and associated marina, would be conveyed as a gift to the city for public use as part of the agreement.
Concerns for the development include the increase in density, the loss of trees and vegetation along Soundview Drive, problems caused by added traffic and impacts to views.
Addressing traffic concerns, Jeff Schramm, the senior project manager from Transportation Engineering NorthWest (TENW), explained the traffic study conducted by TENW and the included traffic and pedestrian safety improvements in the development agreement.
According to Schramm, the development would generate about 200 daily trips, with 30 trips occurring during peak hours — defined as the busiest one hour period between 4 and 6 p.m. — in nearby intersections. The traffic from the development would contribute approximately a 1 to 3 percent increase, depending on the intersection during peak hours.
Another concern for the area is the presence of great blue herons on the triangular upland part of the property. Two separate studies have been conducted — one by Soundview Consultants and another by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife — and have concluded that the site is not an active nesting site for the protected species, though it has been used as a roosting site by the birds.
No action was taken at Monday’s Planning and Building Committee meeting.
The next meeting concerning the One Harbor Point Development Agreement will be held May 24 and will feature an opportunity for public comment and participation. Details of the meeting can be found on the city’s website at cityofgigharbor.net. More information on One Harbor Point can also be found online at cityofgigharbor.net/one-harbor-point-da or at oneharborpoint.com.