One Harbor Point -- Citizen's Letter

Monday, May 15, 2017

Memo to Council: 

Something really bothers me about the One Harbor Point development agreement and I am bringing it to your attention again today because I believe you are taking your public down this road of process, but the deal is all but done.  It looks to me like you have no way out and I resent having to attend all these meetings which have been built into the process, just for you to pacify the citizens of this town.

I asked the Planning Department to explain to me why a developer who does not yet own the property can be bargaining with the City on variances and gifts of boat barns ahead of their ownership of the property.  I wanted a clarification of who the Applicant is, because I have heard two stories.  This is what was reported to me:

The Ben B. Cheney Foundation is the applicant for the development agreement.  The Arletta Development Corporation, Christian Haub, President, owns the site.  The Arletta Development Corporation has provided the city with a signed affidavit authorizing the filing of the application by the Cheney Foundation.  This is a standard practice as the developer of a site will not typically purchase the property until it has all necessary land use authorizations from the local government that has jurisdiction over the permitting for the property.

I have seen some of the architectural work the Cheney’s have produced and they have also hired Public Relations people to promote this development in our community.  It appears to me that they have spent a great sum of money (perhaps up to a million dollars) to get this project through the system.  How can you say “no” to them when they have spent all this money, and would they sue the City if you did?  I think you are in a box, facing a dangerous precedent to our City and future development, with no way out.  I am mad about this!  I think the warnings from Carol Morris about the City facing risks on being sued by developers who don’t get their way on development agreements, is about to be borne out.   

I have brought up the issue of inferred consent to you before, and I think the project would not be this far down the road and spent this much money unless they had reasonable assurances from people in town hall that this project would be greenlighted.  Dr. Kadzik said at the Planning Commission meeting that this was the first time councilmembers had had a chance to see the plans, but we know that the Cheney’s (or their representatives) have had private meetings with several of you before these plans were presented at the Planning Commission meeting.   

These are things that betray the public trust.  In my mind, you have a greater duty to your community than to outside developers, and a greater duty to uphold the Gig Harbor Vision and zoning intended to protect our town from overgrowth, than to a potential owner/developer who is asking for a variance which seeks four times the density permitted by our zoning ordinance, in a sensitive view corridor which frames the iconic view of our town—all for 35 apartments!  Developers should not get privileges that private citizens do not. 

This trap you may have fallen in is going to turn our town into one that looks like Kirkland and Edmonds, instead of our beautiful, quiet, quaint, and precious Gig Harbor.