Jefferson County and Port Ludlow Associates (PLA) plan to sit down and start mediating Jan. 27 over logging the county says PLA did last year that was illegal and PLA insists it had a right to do.
The mediation is to happen in Seattle, according to a memo from attorney Patrick J. Schneider of Foster Pepper PLCC, who was hired by the county to help it resolve the dispute.
Mediator Phyllis Macleod, who has helped settle differences between the county and PLA in the past, was subsequently hired.
Attorneys on both sides were to swap mediation memos by Monday, Jan. 25.
PLA contends the county doesn't have any authority over logging and that its timber harvests are legal. The county disagreed and put a stop-work order on the harvesting in April 2015.
Community groups subsequently organized subcommittee to question the logging, saying it occurred in areas designated “open space reserve” within the Master Planned Resort (MPR). They voice concerns that 500 acres similarly designated within the resort community could be at risk for clear-cutting should PLA prevail.
PLA obtained forest permits through the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for land it has harvested so far; it wants to cut a total of 144 acres. The state agency also cited PLA for not obtaining proper permits for 2 acres.
While the two groups are mediating over last year's logging, a notice went out recently about logging near Port Ludlow that is not within the Master Planned Resort.
Bill Dean, a Port Ludlow Village Council board member, said in an email that the notice was “normal and appropriate.” He said the owner/contractor was receptive to requests not to start operations at 4:30 a.m.
“We did not have to get into a discussion about legality of noise levels or hours, he just looked at it as being a neighbor,” Dean said of the contractor advising of the 4-acre harvest.