City added to lawsuit involving the mayor and her neighbors

The city was this week pulled into a longstanding property dispute involving Mayor Darlene Kordonowy and two of her Port Madison Bay neighbors.

Last year, Kenneth and Jette Hammer filed a lawsuit in the Kitsap County Superior Court against Kordonowy, her husband James Abbott and the neighboring Knapp family seeking damages related to the placement of docks and a disputed property line.

The Hammers, who live to the west of the Knapps on Sivertson Road, on Monday amended the lawsuit to include the city.

The Hammers charge that the city violated its rules in allowing the Knapps to build a dock on their property. City shoreline regulations prohibit two docks on the same lot and mandate that no dock can be built within 10 feet of an adjacent property. According to the Hammers, a dock on the Kordonowy lot straddles the Knapps’ east property line, precluding the construction of a new dock on either property. The Hammers contend that the Knapps’ new dock crowds their dock, making vessel navigation difficult.

City Attorney Paul McMurray could not be reached for comment on the lawsuit.

The city hearing examiner, state Shorelines Hearings Board and the superior court upheld the city’s 2006 decision to allow a dock on the Knapp property. The Hammers dropped an appeal of the superior court decision after the Knapps’ dock was built.

The examiner in 2007 concluded that a property boundary agreement between Kordonowy and the Knapps places Kordonowy’s dock fully within her property.

The Hammers say the Knapp-Kordonowy agreement is illegal because it conflicts with boundaries specified in a shoreline permit issued to the previous owner of Kordonowy’s property.

Kordonowy has declined to discuss the property dispute under the advice of McMurray.

Jette Hammer raised the question last year of whether the examiner, who presided over the dock dispute on a one-time-only basis, may have ruled in favor of the mayor to earn more stable employment from the city. Both the examiner and Kordonowy dispute the claim.

The Hammers, who declined to comment on the lawsuit, have been at odds with the Knapps for over 30 years. Their conflict initially stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the Knapps in the early 1980s that would have blocked a planned dock on the Hammers’ property. The Knapps said the Hammers’ dock would cross their property line and encroach on their tidelands. The two families fought in court for several years before the Hammers were allowed to build the dock.

“They’ve been angry ever since,” William Knapp said, also noting a decades-old conflict over the Knapps’ refusal to back the Hammers’ efforts to close a public road-end between their properties.

“I think this is all just about hate and spite from an old argument,” Knapp said. “It’s cost a lot of money that probably would have had a better use. And dragging the mayor into it is sad.”