Proposed Dock Expansion at Lakebay Marina Faces Local Opposition


Lisa Bryan, KP News

Plans are under way for an expansion of the Lakebay Marina, raising environmental and other orponcerns. Photo: Lisa Bryan, KP News

Public notices from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently announced Lakebay Marina owner Mark Scott’s application to permit an expansion of the dock at his marina on Mayo Cove, with the installation of a 160-foot fingerling float that would end with a 40-by-8-foot floating pump-out station and a sewer line.

In addition, Scott is moving ahead with substantial development plans conditionally approved by Pierce County in October. The proposal is to “to create a campground and RV park with a capacity for up to 300 units with pedestrian access to the marina,” according to the application on file. Scott has an option to acquire a 15-acre upland parcel to complete the campground phase of his development plans.

Scott met with a team from Pierce County Department of Planning and Land Use (PALS) on Sept. 11, with biologists as well as representatives from planning, engineering, building, fire and health departments in a meeting designed to provide customer guidance on the current codes; regulations; and permits from federal, state and county agencies necessary to move the development proposal forward.

“The main focus for this meeting was to discuss requirements for the RV Park,” said Ty Booth, senior planner for Pierce County. “Mr. Scott was informed he will also need county and state permits for a proposed dock expansion detailed in his recent permit application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that was not included as it should have been in our predevelopment meeting.”

“I strongly encouraged Mr. Scott to hire a consultant to help him through the process,” wrote Tom Bloxton, a former Army Corps of Engineers biologist and project manager in an Aug. 30 email addressed to Pierce County Planning, Washington Fish and Wildlife, and Washington Department of Ecology apprising them of the public notice due out shortly.

Opposition Mounts

Neighborhood residents have expressed a number of concerns regarding Scott’s plans, including environmental damage from a pump-out station to fish and wildlife, concern for sensitive eelgrass and reduction of maneuvering room in the very limited deep-water channel. Neighbors were particularly perplexed that a second pump-out station is even necessary for Mayo Cove, considering the expense and the fact that Penrose State Park operates a pump-out facility at its dock less than 75 yards away from that proposed in the Lakebay Marina permit application.

“The pump-out is available to all boaters. It operates year-round; however, I do shut off the water supply for rinsing during the winter to keep the line from freezing,” said Janet Shonk, Penrose Point State Park operations manager.

Some neighbors wrote letters to the Corps of Engineers opposing the dock expansion while others told KP News they held back from voicing disapproval publicly in fear of drawing the ire of the business.

Neighbors also have been concerned about — and reporting to county officials — live-aboard boaters moored at the marina as well as RVs and trailers being used as living spaces without permits.

The marina is being considered for the historic register. Photo: Lisa Bryan, KP News

Historic Register Application

Scott purchased the Lakebay Marina and adjacent upland parcels from the estate of Dewey Hostetler in 2012. By nearly all accounts, Scott’s vision for the future of the marina was to preserve the classic look of the past along with the fun he fondly remembers from his childhood. He envisioned restoration of the old building, turning it into a café at the end of the pier to serve as a place where people could buy old-fashioned milkshakes made at the counter while Northwest classics cooked on the grill.

His plan included live music that would entertain patrons after the sun went down, along with beer, wine, a little dancing and a lot of fun. He had visions of colorful farmers markets on Saturdays and lazy summer Sunday brunches. He would expand the uplands to create more campsites and hookups for RVs, all part of his dream to promote the resort as the quintessential Puget Sound summer destination for campers and boaters, the last remaining vintage stop along the route of the historic Mosquito Fleet.

“Our staff recognizes the fact the Lakebay Marina has been in existence for decades. We agree it is historic,” Booth said. “There is a need for facilities of this sort in the south Puget Sound and with the growing population of the region, there is greater need for recreational facilities.”

Mayo Cove resident Phil Johnson said that the wharf was originally built to serve a ferry that operated between Steilacoom, Tacoma and Key Peninsula.

“The original building actually was built by a chicken-and-egg cooperative and was used to store the outgoing eggs and incoming feed, as well as people’s groceries and such,” he said. “After the Narrows Bridge was built, the ferries stopped operating. The wharf was sold into private hands and operated as a marina. It really wasn’t much of an operation, but it did have a marine fuel dock and they still operate it today.”

A nomination to the Pierce County Landmarks and Historical Preservation Commission is currently on track, under the name Washington Co-Operative Egg & Poultry Association Lakebay Station, according to Chad Williams, senior planner at Pierce County Resource Management.

Williams said that the most likely public hearing date for the Lakebay station would be Jan. 16, 2018 unless the commission “can squeeze it in any sooner.”

“The Pierce County Landmarks and Historic Preservation Commission takes these nominations very seriously because they believe being on the Register of Historic Places is special and a true honor,” he said.

Designation of historic landmarks, such as the Longbranch Improvement Club, enables owners to apply for grant funding to assist with preservation. With the special designation also comes the responsibility to assure all the work is completed in strict adherence to historical preservation standards, which often increases the overall cost of the work.

What’s Next

The Lakebay Marina aquatic lease agreement with the Department of Natural Resources will expire in 2021, according to Hannah Blackstock, aquatic lease manager of the Department of Natural Resources’ Shoreline District, which includes Mayo Cove.

Blackstock noted that renegotiation of aquatic leases frequently includes bringing the facility into compliance with current regulations.

“Each aquatic lease is unique to its particular location,” she said.

In the meantime, the development application plan was approved by PALS, subject to satisfaction of all applicable and required county, state and federal permits and approvals. This application will expire on Oct. 6, 2018.

The site is located within the Key Peninsula Community Plan, therefore policies set forth within the community plan must be considered during the review of this proposal. Requirements include a zoning code conditional-use permit and all applicable shoreline permits, according to a detailed memorandum written by Booth on the subject.

“These types of uses are generally those types that are allowed and considered appropriate in this area, subject to obtaining all necessary permits,” Booth told the KP News.

“Pierce County is ready and willing to happily provide assistance as we would with any other proposal or applicant. We have demonstrated that over the years by issuing shoreline exemptions to allow repairs to the facility, with the Building Division working to rectify structural issues on the pier, etc.” he said.

He noted that an RV Park would require a public meeting before the Key Peninsula Advisory Committee (KPAC), followed by another public hearing before the Pierce County hearing examiner.

“The recommendation of KPAC will be considered by the hearing examiner, who will determine whether this activity will be allowed,” Booth said.

The county further suggested to Scott “that existing code violations involving the resort need to be resolved, as it would be difficult for staff to support a proposal before the KPAC and the hearing examiner if there are outstanding issues that we cannot seem to resolve or are ignored,” according to Booth’s memorandum.

The most recent unresolved county code violations include occupied RVs or travel trailers without required permits, conducting deferred maintenance to the marina without permit approval, using the upstairs area of the restaurant as a dwelling, and unpermitted business signage. A letter from Pierce County Code Enforcement Officer Mark Lupino to Scott requested resolution by obtaining the necessary permits, which would stop the clock on further county enforcement action.

Mark Scott declined to comment at this time.