Urban or not?

Kitsap County will likely have to reduce the size of its Urban Growth Areas — areas that will presumably become a city or part of a city in the future.

The Central Growth Management Hearings Board ruled that the county must re-examine its UGAs that were expanded during the 2006 Comprehensive Plan update. And the county is seeking input from residents of the county on the process.

“It’s an all hands on deck affair,” said Eric Baker, special projects director for Kitsap County commissioners, at a public workshop and information briefing Monday. He referred to the many departments within the county that would be working on the project, as well as the importance of community feedback.

In a five-year legal challenge that included the Appeals Court and then Supreme Court that denied review, the Hearings Board revisited the 2006 Comprehensive Plan and ruled in August 2011 that it is non-compliant with the Growth Management Act, said Baker.

The county has until August 2012 to make changes to its plan that mainly affect the low-density residential zones — urban low, urban cluster and urban restricted — which include the Silverdale, Central Kitsap, East Bremerton, West Bremerton, Gorst, Kingston, McCormick Woods/ULID#6 and Port Orchard/South Kitsap Urban Growth Areas.

The question now is by how much should those UGAs be reduced and where.

The county will need to determine what is an appropriate minimum density for a single family development because currently four dwellings an acre is not appropriate. Another point that will need to be addressed regards an appropriate development trend when calculating land capacity.

Participants of Monday’s workshop were able to discuss their views with county employees in small groups. They also marked on maps the parts of UGAs they considered “urban” and wanting to keep as part of a UGA, and what areas they considered could be removed from UGAs.

Jeff Coombe lives in the Esquire Hills area of East Bremerton and has an office in Old Town Silverdale. He said he doesn’t have any concerns with the process because if his residence ends up being within or outside of an urban growth area, he doesn’t think there will be much difference.

“We have good [county] services now. I wouldn’t be opposed to being annexed,” Coombe said adding that he didn’t think a city could serve him any better than the county is now.

Citizens United for Silverdale, the committee pushing for Silverdale’s cityhood, is in the process of gathering signatures of registered voters residing within the proposed city boundaries. The proposed boundaries use the current Silverdale UGA as a framework but does not encompass the entire area. The committee will need to gather 10 percent of signatures from registered voters residing within the proposed area in order to get the measure on the ballot for a special election in 2012.

Angie Silvia, special projects planner with the county, said if the measure goes to vote before August 2012, then the current boundaries would be used for an incorporated Silverdale. If an incorporation measure is voted on after August, subsequently making it after changes are made to the UGA, the committee would need to reconfigure its proposed city boundaries and start the process over again, she added.

“It’s all about the timing,” Silva said.

Just as the committee is able to continue its process to incorporate Silverdale, Baker said that people can also continue to submit building permits or subdivision applications with the current UGAs.

“Our plan is not invalid, it’s just non-compliant,” Baker said.

The county plans to have preliminary alternatives — four or five for each of the UGAs— available in January or February. Another round of public workshops will take place to gather feedback from the community followed by environmental impact statements done on three of the alternatives for each UGA. By May or June, the draft plan for each UGA will be released followed by public workshops. A hearing would be July or August when the updated UGAs would be approved.


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