The city of Sequim, Washington has hired a hearing examiner to adjudicate a dispute with the Port of Port Angeles over John Wayne Marina.

The hearing examiner will decide by August 30 on the port’s appeal over the city’s decision that prohibits the public marina to be privately operated.

The port is considering putting the marina up for sale rather than spending approximately US$22m by 2035 for float, piling and breakwater improvements. In May City Attorney Kristina Nelson-Gross and Community Development Manager Barry Berezowsky authored a report outlining the reasons behind city officials’ determination that the shoreline plan prohibits the port-owned, 300-slip public marina from being operated by a private entity.

Port officials have fielded purchase-information requests from a local individual as well as Pacific Marina Development Inc of Newport Beach, California, and Bend, Oregon, marina developer Ron Cole, whose inquiry prompted port commissioners to consider selling the Sequim Bay facility.

The city’s determination “is more restrictive than is necessary given the regulatory controls that are available to the city through both the shoreline master program and the Shoreline Management Act. Under a plain reading of the city’s shoreline master program, operation of the John Wayne Marina, as a marina, under private ownership is not prohibited,” according to the port’s appeal.

Rick Mraz, the shorelands technical and regulatory lead for the state Department of Ecology’s Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program, said in an email to Berezowsky that he agrees with the city’s interpretation.

Berezowsky told the Peninsula Daily News that city officials “are not swayed at all” by the appeal submitted by the port.

Three public hearings are planned around the area on July 22 for citizen input on the future of the marina.

Sound Law Center of Seattle will hear testimony in the case and issue a ruling.