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Kitsap County Superior Court Rejects Development Agreement for Pleasant Harbor MPR

On March 28, Kitsap Superior Court Judge Sally Olson reversed Jefferson County Ordinance 04-0604-18 adopting the Development Agreement for the Pleasant Harbor Master Planned Resort (MPR) and remanded it back to the county for further proceedings.  Ordinance 04-0604-18 was adopted in June, 2018 by the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners.  It  was challenged by the Brinnon Group, a local grassroots non-profit that has opposed this development’s size and design for a number of years.  Rick Aramburu is the Brinnon Group attorney.

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The Court ruled that the development agreement approved by the Commissioners failed to include a community center as required by a county ordinance approved in 2008.  In addition, the Court found that the phasing plan approved did not require that each phase of the development include sufficient amenities, such as the promised recreation center, pool, and community center, so that each phase could stand alone if no additional phases of the proposal are developed.

The developer will be required to make changes in the proposal consistent with the Court ruling before project permits can be issued.

Plans to continue the development also threaten natural kettles on the Black Point property.  These kettles are important both for their geological features and for local tribal cultural concerns.

An MPR is an unusual type of development.  It must contain not only residences, but also short-term lodging, recreational facilities and services that make it a self-contained community.  

Originally, Statesman, the developer, planned to build the MPR in one phase.  Now development is planned in several phases, which may take 45 years to complete.  However, in each phase, recreational and community amenities must go hand in hand with residential development.  

The court found that the current plan for the MPR has only residences (and a drain field) in the first phase and has no spa, sports courts, pool, water slides, community center, recreation center, conference center, staff quarters, maintenance building or commercial space.

The court also found that the county ordinance requires a recreation center, but there is no recreation center in the plans.  In 2016, separate from the MPR plan, the developer proposed public funding for a recreation center.  The developer suggested that Jefferson County could supply $2M, $9,another 250,000 would be granted from the state, and $26.5M would be raised through bonds by the state to loan to the developer.  County officials discussed this proposal, but it was not accepted.

The Black Point kettles are rarer than most of these land forms, left over from the last ice age.  At 150 feet deep and 12 acres, the largest is much deeper than most kettles in the US (as deep as a 15 story building).  It is dry and does not hold water, as most do.  The development would destroy this large kettle and use it for reclaimed water from sewage treatment along with storm water collected from buildings and roads  

The kettle is also historically and culturally significant for the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe.  The tribe has applied to have it on the National Register of Historical Places.

The developer must get a Jurisdictional Determination from the Corps of Engineers to establish whether the wetland (kettle) is a water of the United States.  He must also get a wetland permit from the state Department of Ecology.  He has not begun either of these permit applications.

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Here is a summary of our appeal.

The Growth Management Act (GMA) was designed to prevent growth outside of existing urban areas to protect rural areas. County ordinances bring the GMA provisions to a local level.

An MPR is allowed outside of existing urban areas if it meets the requirements of a destination resort.  The Pleasant Harbor MPR does not meet the requirements.

A destination resort must provide for both long term and short term visitors with accommodations such as condominiums and a hotel, with more accommodations for short term visitors than for permanent residents. It must have utilities such as water, power, and sewer. It must provide amenities such as groceries, places to eat, entertainment and attractions such as golf, court sports, and swimming pools.

An MPR may be built in phases. If so, each phase must to be able to function as a destination resort and to meet all the requirements to meet the definition of an MPR. This is true if construction is halted at any point after starting a phase.

PH MPR proposes in Phase 1 & 1b. to build 202 residential units, a gravel mining/sorting facility site, all utilities and clearing for the golf course. It is unclear how many of the residential units are short stay. There is no recreation center or golf course.  The marina was removed from the MPR to upgrade its facilities under a binding site plan.

There are no amenities in Phase 1 that qualify the 202 residential units for an MPR if the developer stops. If so, then it doesn’t meet the requirements of an MPR and is not allowed by the Growth Management Act or county ordinance.

Jefferson County has given the Pleasant Harbor MPR no required start date, 45 years to finish, and no mechanism to hold the developer to his promises.

MPRs fail more often than they succeed.  The Washington State Guidance on Master Planned Resorts estimates that only 1 out of 10 MPRs are successful.  Pine Ridge, a previous Statesman development in Canada, has not been completed and Statesman is asking for tax money to help complete it.  MPRs that fail have been costly for counties and county taxpayers.  

Some people believe that they will have input at each phase of the MPR.  This is not true. This is the end of public participation as to what is being built, where and when.

There could be more input if the developer makes a major change to the plans.  What is the definition of a major change?  The county decides.

Legal Documents for Growth Management Board Hearing


         ATTACHMENT A:  Ordinance Adopting Development Regulations

         ATTACHMENT B:  Ordinance Adopting Development Agreement

         ATTACHMENT C:  Map from Final SEIS

         ATTACHMENT D:  Different, Hand Corrected  Map of Master Planned Resort






Legal Documents for kitsap superior court (LUPA)


ATTACHMENT A:  Ordinance Approving Development Regulations

ATTACHMENT B:  Ordinance Adopting Development Agreement

ATTACHMENT C:  Map of Master Planned Resort Plan

 ATTACHMENT D:  Different, Hand Corrected  Map of Master Planned Resort

ATTACHMENT E:  Vision Statement from 2016







1.     What is an MPR?

A Master Planned Resort (MPR) isn’t whatever a developer wants to build.  It is defined by both state law (RCW 36.70A.360) and Jefferson County ordinance (18.15.025).

An MPR must have self-contained, integrated facilities, focused on a range of recreational facilities.  Permanent residences are allowed only if they support onsite recreation.  The emphasis is on short stay. 

2.     What are important details about the Pleasant Harbor MPR proposal?

  • It is located on Black Point, on about 250 acres, adjacent to the Pleasant Harbor Marina, which the developer also owns.

  • There is one aquifer for Black Point and wells already are experiencing salt water intrusion.

  • The completed MPR will have 890 units. At least one building will be 4 stories high.

  • The MPR will add more than 2000 people per day to Brinnon.

  • The MPR will add up to 4100 car trips a day on highway 101.

  • 80% of employees will be paid below the poverty level.

  • The resort will not add to the affordable housing in Brinnon. A dormitory will house seasonal staff and they will pay up to 30% of their wages to stay there.

  • The MPR will harm shellfish and other aquatic life in Hood Canal, both through in increase of traffic emissions and pollution from the MPR itself. 

3.     Are MPRs generally economically successful?

The Washington State report on MPRs states: 

After reviewing North American resort and recreational projects over a 30-year span, some resort industry leaders estimated that as few as 10 percent were profitable for the original developer. (page 10).

The guide describes areas that have set specific investment targets for developers and recommends that counties ensure that developers have the experience and financial capability to carry out the development.

Jefferson County has refused to ask the developer to provide this information, despite many requests from the public. 

4.     What is the current status of the MPR?

  • Development agreement and regulations have been approved by all 3 members of the BOCC.

  • The developer has signed the development agreement, but not the attachments.

  • There are no permits; it is not yet at the permit stage. 

5.     What is the basis of the Brinnon Group’s appeal?

The current MPR plans do not meet the state or county requirements for an MPR.  The design is so vague and the timing so unclear, that you cannot tell what the county has agreed to with the developer. And it is unclear that there will be short term rentals. 

6.     What will be the impact on taxes?

  • Some people believe that it will reduce their property taxes, because more people in Jefferson County will be paying for county expenses. However, to know the true cost you need both income and expenditure figures.

  • The county has refused to do an analysis of the revenue and costs to taxpayers from the MPR, despite being asked by citizens many times.

  • An Oregon study of a similar development concludes:

    • In conclusion, local governments and local taxpayers will be left with a net cost burden of $45.94 million if the Thornburgh Resort is fully completed as proposed. This is a net cost after the resort has been credited for all known payments and tax revenues it will generate. The $45.94 million cost will be externalized and will ultimately be borne by other taxpayers (not the resort) through some combination of higher taxes, reduced public services, and lower facility service standard

  • The development agreement approved by Jefferson County transfers costs to taxpayers in a number of ways. For example, there will be considerable damage to Hood Canal from increased traffic emissions (4000+ extra vehicle trips a day). Taxpayers will pay to protect and to restore the Canal and its fish and shellfish.

7.     What would real economic development in South County look like?

 During the 1994-95 process to update the 1982 Community Plan, the first such plan for Brinnon, the Planning Committee gathered survey results and comments in order to create a profile of the community. The essential theme echoed by residents was the importance of maintaining the rural character of Brinnon. As before, respondents favored the development or improvement of single- family residences, convenience stores, retail and service businesses, agricultural and/or aquaculture production, marina operation and boat launches, and the expansion of parks and other public areas.

8.     What do I need to do to stop the MPR?