Battle for the Soul of Port Hadlock

March 18, 2021
by Pamela Roberts

The battle for the soul of Port Hadlock continues between the development camp and residents of this rural town. The proposed Hadlock Sewer is central to this conflict.

Core Area pushing sewer proposal

The “Core Area” in Port Hadlock has a gerrymandered boundary drawn around the Hadlock business district, in addition to hand-picked public and private properties. It includes landowners likely to approve a LID vote to finance the sewer for that area. These “landowners” include county-owned vacant lands, the Jefferson County Library, PUD, Port of Port Townsend and Chimacum Schools. So many of the landowners are actually the government – not private property owners. The community overall does not support the idea of financing a $100 million sewer in Port Hadlock.

There is conflicting information about whether the entire Hadlock community will be forced to hook up to the sewer over time if the LID process in the Core Area proceeds. One hook up could cost as high as $41,000 per household, in addition to other fees and maintenance costs associated with the grinders and pumps at each house.

This sewer idea has been kicking around for about 20 years now and there is strong resistance to it in the Port Hadlock community. Costs and environmental issues are major concerns. as well as the community’s wish to maintain its rural character. If the community wanted to develop Port Hadlock to a higher zoning density a sewer would be required as part of the Urban Growth Area planning. A sewer would open up the opportunity for many of the parcels in Port Hadlock to be up-zoned for higher density housing and business development. So far the community has said a resounding, “No,” to the sewer idea and the idea of increased density. One statement I’ve heard is, “We don’t want Hadlock to become a parking lot for Walmart.”

The chair of the Sewer Working Group, Craig Durgan, owns land in the Core Area of Port Hadlock that he believes would benefit from a sewer. This is a clear conflict of interest and he should not be leading the working group.

Craig’s land appears to be two parcels zoned R-10 on the perimeter of the Shold gravel business. As things stand right now Craig can build one house and one ADU on each of those two properties. Nothing that we know of is standing in the way of that happening. We aren’t entirely sure what Craig envisions for his property, but he talks a lot about building apartments so perhaps that is his goal. His property is not currently zoned to do that.

“I do not even need the sewer.”

Here is an exchange on Facebook between Craig and Mike Regan that helps clarify Craig’s intentions. What is remarkable is that Craig actually wrote that “I DO NOT EVEN NEED THE SEWER!”

Can the county grant a zoning change?

Maybe Craig could negotiate with the county using one of his parcels for an enlarged drain field and building multi-family housing on the other parcel. Maybe if he talked with the county they would allow him to do that. We don’t know if that idea is possible, but building a $100 million sewer system that impacts the entire Hadlock community is not the answer to Craig reaching his development goals.

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