The following article appeared in the Anacortes American, November 25, 1998 MJB ANNOUNCES MARINA PLANS Developer Will Attempt to Plant Eelgrass to Make Up for Loss Elsewhere By Nancy Walbeck American Staff Writer A major developer of Fidalgo Bay property announced an ambition plan Monday night for extensive eelgrass mitigation in the south dock area as well as building a new breakwater to extend beyond the current harbor line. MJB Properties, the firm that owns more than 70 acres on the bay, is launching its mitigation plan in conjunction with the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the owner of critical tidelands in south bay. The project will be in three phases, and somewhat different that first proposed by MJB last year, Dan Dingfield, project manager for MJB, told Anacortes city councilors at a Monday, Nov. 23, study session, that the development firm plans its own eelgrass mitigation project, one that should provide future "credits" through "banking." The south-dock area runs from 25th to 29th streets and east from T Avenue to the shoreline "We plan to do this as a joint venture with DNR," Dingfield said, adding that the project should produce 60 acres of habitat resource vs. the six acres previously planned in the mid-bay area. The initial mitigation plan comprised MJB, the city and the Port of Anacortes. About 71 acres will be affected, 11 of that in the water. But MJB also has to secure permits to dredge the current fill area, up to 665,000 cubic yards. This area will be the major portion dedicated to eelgrass-habitat regeneration. Although Dingfield warned that it would take a number of years for full mitigation to occur, already indications of natural regeneration have been seen. In areas where the bottom is closer to the surface, say between four and six feet, eelgrass has grown and even thrived, he said. The total project includes upland, dry-boat storage for about 450 boats in a closed building west of the dredged channel in south bay. Additional open-boat storage will be offered as well south of the channel, but only temporarily. That eventually will be converted to 360 marina slips, Dingfield said. The project also calls for a new extended breakwater, from the privately owned Anacortes Marina on the northwest and southeast beyond the harbor line, an issue Dingfield conceded would need to be negotiated with the state. A third phase of the project is the 900-slip marina, which has long been planned for the mid-bay shoreline near 15th Street. Dingfield and marine engineer Jeff Layton of Layton and Sells said the plan could produce additional eelgrass credits for the Port of Anacortes' projects and SHIP Harbor development, among others. Credits can allow development to occur in eelgrass or habitat-resource areas, if developers create a similar off-site habitat in exchange. In their "preliminary" discussions with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, Dingfield and Layton said the agency "told us to continue" to plan a dredge project that would "bring back the land to the original shoreline." But MJB also will need permit approvals from the city, the U.S. Corps of Engineers and various other agencies, among other concerns. Still to be resolved is whether DNR will favor MJB on the tideland option, or decide on the Port of Anacortes' south harbor project instead. Dingfield said MJB would "vigorously" pursue DNR's approval, including using the abutting-property proviso. The firm owns property adjacent to DNR's five-acre parcel, as does the city. Recently, DNR asked city council to participate in that decision-making process. Abutting property owners generally are given first option regarding tideland leases. Meanwhile, Dingfield said MJB will immediately apply after the Thanksgiving holiday for permits to begin work on the initial 13-acre upland site. Those plans include a new dock, an adjacent float, hydraulic boat lifts as well as permanent and temporary upland boat storage. Council members had few questions Monday night, but Jeanne Robinette said if MJB can pull off the mitigation project, it "would be a major scientific breakthrough."