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Mayor casts tie-breaking vote as One Harbor Point project takes next step forward in development agreement process

Concerned Gig Harbor residents pack the City Council Chambers during Monday night’s public hearing on the One Harbor Point development.
Concerned Gig Harbor residents pack the City Council Chambers during Monday night’s public hearing on the One Harbor Point development. ahaffly@gateline.com

The development agreement for One Harbor Point was approved for initiation by the Gig Harbor City Council at Monday’s City Council meeting following a long and contentious public hearing.

With Council member Timothy Payne absent, Mayor Jill Guernsey cast the tie-breaking vote to move the development agreement process forward for further review.

Also voting in favor of continuing the discussion and review of the agreement were Council members Casey Arbenz, Michael Perrow and Paul Kadzik, while Council members Steve Ekberg, Ken Malich and Rahna Lovrovich voted against continuing the process. Malich made an initial motion to cease processing the development agreement, which failed by a 4-3 vote, with Guernsey breaking the tie.

More than 120 people overflowed the council chambers to hear about the development agreement and provide their views during the public comment portion of the hearing. Thirty-six people spoke against the project and eight spoke in support of it.

One Harbor Point is a development proposed by the Ben B. Cheney foundation on the Haub triangle property located on the corner of Harborview and Soundview Drives.

Presenting the development agreement initiation was Senior Planner Peter Katich and Planning Director Jennifer Kester, who outlined the project and public outreach prior to Monday’s meeting. The approved initiation of the agreement means additional and more rigorous review from city staff, along with the Planning Commission, Parks Commission and Design Review Board.

The presented application had been revised following a May 24 open house for the project. The revisions, made in response to public comment gathered at the event, include a reduction in the total number of dwelling units from 35 to 29 within 10 townhouse units, reduction from three-story to two-story structures and removing the Green Turtle parcel and marina from the agreement.

Brad Cheney, president of the Cheney Foundation’s board of directors, was present at the meeting, speaking on behalf of the foundation and as a 35-year resident of Gig Harbor.

I’m disheartened by the controversy this has brought on our community. From the beginning we have been dedicated to being transparent ... I can assure everyone that there has been no easy path getting here tonight.

Brad Cheney, Cheney Foundation president

“This property and this project are complicated and complex ... One Harbor Point will bring much needed improvements to both Harborview and Soundview (drives),” he said. “We really want to get this right. I’m disheartened by the controversy this has brought on our community. From the beginning we have been dedicated to being transparent ... I can assure everyone that there has been no easy path getting here tonight.”

Representing the Haub family at the meeting was the family’s attorney, John Barline, who stated that the family was completely and enthusiastically in support of the project and has always planned to develop the property as an investment.

Monday’s initiation hearing for the development agreement was the third step in the city’s development agreement process. The next step in the process will be review of the development agreement by the Planning and Building Committee and selected boards and commissions, including the Planning Commission, Park Commission and Design Review Board.

City staff will also perform a comprehensive review of the development agreement to include traffic, critical areas, design review and SEPA. All committee, commission and board meetings will be open to the public.

Following these reviews, the committee will forward a recommendation to the Council for consideration in public meeting. The City Council will then hold two public hearings on the development agreement, which will include another chance for residents to give public testimony.

The next Gig Harbor City Council meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. July 10 at the Gig Harbor Civic Center located at 3510 Grandview Street.

Andrea Haffly: 253-358-4155, @gateway_andrea

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