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Opposition to gravel mine continues with changes

Concerned neighbors along Northlake Way NW may have a partner in their fight against a proposed gravel mine near Kitsap Lake.

While not formally opposed to the project, the Kitsap Lake Neighborhood Association is objecting to the mine’s proximity to Kitsap Lake and the residents living near Ueland Tree Farm, association president Tom Engstrom said.

Association members recently met with environmental engineer Joel Adamson and the Concerned Citizens of the Chico Creek Water Basin, the group that appealed the project and presented to the hearing board at Kitsap County Court two weeks ago.

“After the hearing, I told them we would like them to get in on this and I hope we can join forces,” said Jack Stanfill of Concerned Citizens.

The site is about 1,500 feet from Kitsap Lake. Engstrom said this proximity poses dangers to the soil and wildlife. He also said it would pollute and reduce the water flow into the lake, which is about 30 feet deep.

“There are absolutely huge environmental concerns,” he said. “Anytime there is mining, you don’t know what’s going to happen. When you are blowing up parts of the Earth, there is the potential of affecting things farther down.”

Craig Ueland, owner of Ueland Tree Farm, maintains the project’s original environmental impact study showed the risks were properly taken into account.

Engstrom said the mining area needs to be pushed farther back into the 1,716-acre tree farm.

He also sympathized with Concerned Citizen’s opinion that the increase of 186 employee vehicles on Northlake Way, most of which are large trucks, would hurt property values and pose safety concerns to children along the many existing bus routes.

“Most of those trucks can’t stop very fast,” Engstrom said.

He also disagreed with Ueland’s position that the existing southern routes into the tree farm weren’t viable alternatives because of potential damage to the area’s watershed and surrounding wildlife.

“We live in a world where people are very concerned about the environment, but I also worry about the residents on that road and I want to see Ueland Tree Farm venture in a couple of ways with a cost analysis,” Engstrom said. “We’re not against the mine, we want to see companies grow because the county really needs jobs this year.”

The hearing board has 60 days from Dec. 21 to make a decision on the appeal.

Engstrom said it might be difficult for the association to approve spending money on a follow-up appeal because only a small portion of the association’s members live close enough to the mine to be affected.

But if the site is not moved farther from the lake he plans to bring up the idea to the association.

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