The clearing of a parcel off Key Peninsula Highway across from the Shell gas station was visible in April from the highway, causing some local residents to question the ongoing development that they feel compromises the highway view corridors. A couple of neighbors contacted the Key Peninsula News to voice concerns about what they believed to be clearcutting of the property. Longbranch resident David Mikelsen held a one-person protest, wearing a surgical mask and holding a sign saying, “No more clear cuts.”
“I’ve been going to (Key Peninsula Community) Planning Board meetings for two years and people have gone through great effort to protect the buffer zone,” Mikelsen said. “My real concern is the continued clearcutting and the impact it will have on our aquifer.” (See related story on page 6.) Mikelsen also questioned why the debris was being burned instead of being hauled to a disposal facility.
The parcel is the future home of Community Bible Fellowship, the largest church on the Key Peninsula based on its congregation. The 14-year-old church started out in the home of pastor Tim Cedarland, and is currently meeting at the Key Peninsula Middle School.
Cedarland said the property had been logged 15 years ago and had mostly brush and scotchbroom left. A local sawmill operator not affiliated with the church and familiar with property confirmed the information to the KP News, as did the county planning staff. The church has been undergoing the permitting process for more than three years, and applied for a variance for the required 50-foot buffer. A hearing examiner approved a reduced 25-foot, “filtered screen” buffer (a low-vegetation buffer that allows partial view of the site).
“There isn’t a requirement that they have to leave the trees under the landscape code they fell under at the time of application,” county planner Rob Wenman said. The landscaping plan, which includes replanting to create the buffer, was approved. The plantings will have to be in place before occupancy permits are issued.
“Everything has been done according to county specs,” Cedarland said.
Construction for the 15,000-square-foot facility, which will include a sanctuary and a fellowship hall, is expected to last a year. Cedarland said the project is not affiliated with Gig Harbor based Cedarland NW, which is owned by his family members.