The following article appeared in the Anacortes American, Wednesday, March
10, 1999.

MAYOR, COUNCIL SPLIT ON BACKING MJB FOR WATERFRONT PROPOSAL

By Nancy Walbeck
American Staff Writer

     Over the strong objections of Mayor Dean Maxwell, a majority of
Anacortes City Council members voted Monday night to recommend a state
agency approve MJB’s south-dock proposal.
     MJB, which owns about 70 acres on Fidalgo Bay, proposed leasing five
acres from the state Department of Natural Resources.  The Port of
Anacortes also sought the leased land, and DNR subsequently asked Anacortes
City Hall for its help.
     Initially, Maxwell and city council members intended to develop what
they termed "criteria" for DNR, guidelines for development that included
previously approved land-use and shoreline regulations.  They also planned
to address DNR’s own set of rules for shoreline development, thus allowing
the agency to make an informed decision as to which development proposal
should be approved.
     But some council members were upset about the long delay in
determining criteria, and what a few saw as an incomplete and possible
unworkable Port proposal.  Since last fall, MJB has said it was preparing
to move forward on its South Dock project, which also included dredging to
enlarge the marina area.  Further, MJB wanted to take the 650,000 cubic
yards of dredged material and place it on 60 acres in Fidalgo Bay , to
enhance eelgrass growth.  The South Dock area has eelgrass beds in the area
MJB proposes for marina uses.  For development to move forward, another
area of the bay must produce an equal amount of eelgrass as mitigation.
     In the last few weeks, a few city council members and a couple of Port
commissioners have met to discuss how to resolve the DNR tidelands issue. 
Because neither body had a majority of its members present, the meetings
were not legally required to be open to the public.  MJB principals, who
also met with local officials, have spoken to State Commissioner of Lands
Jennifer Belcher in an effort to secure the tidelands.  Next Tuesday, March
16, Port executive director Rick Aschieris and Maxwell also will meet with
Belcher.
     On Monday night, Maxwell failed to persuade city council members to
table their vote until after the Belcher meeting so the city can thoroughly
understand its position regarding eelgrass mitigation and what could occur
on Fidalgo Bay.
     In a 5-2 vote, council members approved sending DNR a letter strongly
endorsing MJB’s projects as well as "encourag(ing) you to approve MJB’s
proposal to place fill on 60 acre so Fidalgo Bay to enhance the existing
Fidalgo Bay eelgrass mitigation project."
     Council members Bud Rock and Jeanne Robinette voted no and Maxwell
refused to sign the letter.  He then said he would send a letter of his
own, which clearly would not support a majority of the council members’
opinions.
     "You are not getting my signature," Maxwell said, directing his
comment to Councilman Bill Carlisle.  "I will follow this up with (my own)
letter."
     Carlisle: "So will I."
     Maxwell strongly objected, saying MJB has had two opportunities to
talk to Belcher and the Port  should have the same consideration.  He
asked, instead, that council members forward the criteria data but table
the letter recommending MJB’s proposal.
     But Carlisle said even though the MJB plan to dredge and deposit
materials to enhance eelgrass mitigation "is problematic," it offers
"significant hope" that more development can happen in Fidalgo Bay.
     However, council members Jeanne Robinette and Bud Rock say they are
concerned the city’s just-acquired state approval for six acres for bay
mitigation will be jeopardized.  As well, Robinette asked if other property
owners along the bay would benefit from MJB’s plan.  She said she wanted to
see those details included in any letter sent to DNR.
     And that’s where the issue becomes muddied, because possibly half the
60-acre mitigation credits could be dealt to DNR to use elsewhere in the
state, one of several options discussed at Monday night’s council meeting. 
Carlisle insisted that MJB has no plans to take those credits away form the
city, and city planning director Ian Munce said it’s highly unlikely the
state would involve itself in any eelgrass project in the bay without the
city’s explicit approval.
     "(But) there has been no discussion how (the mitigation) acreage would
be allocated," Munce said, and some city officials clearly want that to
take place.  As well, Munce said a further discussion must include eelgrass
restoration that is not directly involved in development.
     "And DNR could use that other 30 acres elsewhere in the state.  I
don’t have an answer," Munce said.  "DNR might want those mitigation
(eelgrass) credits around the state."