County presents alternatives for UGA updates

A farm doesn’t belong in an Urban Growth Area — that’s the thought of Scott Hall, who manages the Petersen Farm in Silverdale.

Kitsap County is in the process of updating its Urban Growth Areas — likely reducing their sizes — and have drafted four possibilities, or alternatives, for each UGA and presented them at two public meetings last week.

The 166-acre Petersen Farm is situated in the northern part of Silverdale and is bisected by State Highway 3 and Hall said that none of the farm should belong in the Silverdale UGA because it would just skew the county’s numbers.

“Common sense is probably going to prevail in this situation,” he said at last Thursday’s meeting, adding that he thinks an updated boundary that is somewhere between the lowest and highest density will likely be selected in the end of the process.

The four draft alternatives for each of the county’s UGAs — Silverdale, Central Kitsap, East Bremerton, West Bremerton, Gorst, Kingston, McCormick Woods and Port Orchard/South Kitsap — each have versions of a lower density up to a high density one. There is a public hearing scheduled for the Commissioners Chambers Feb. 6 for the public to be able to speak on these alternatives.

“These are preliminary,” said Eric Baker, special projects director for Kitsap County commissioners last week. “None are preferred by the county commissioners.”

The reason the county is going through this process is because the Central Growth Management Hearings Board ruled that the county must re-examine its UGAs that were expanded during the 2006 Comprehensive Plan update. The county has until August 2012 to make changes to the eight UGAs.

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.

Baker said all alternatives propose five dwelling units per acre countywide rather than four since the Hearings Board indicated that four dwelling units per acre was not consistent with local circumstances. The county updates must reflect current local circumstances and developmental trends and patterns. Those working on the project have looked at developmental patterns in the county from 2000 to 2010, Baker said.

Tom Donnelly, a South Kitsap resident, said that county has been doing a good job explaining the process and all factors that they are looking out for.

Donnelly added that some things could be difficult to define or decipher though.

“And, a prison. Is that residential?” he asked.

The alternatives are not merely geographic boundaries but also include density trends, said Angie Silva, senior planner with the county special projects department. Therefore they test boundaries and trends. The three alternatives that county commissioners will select after the public hearing could be hybrids of the existing drafts, or they could be something completely different, said Silva.

From those three alternatives, an environmental impact statement will be drafted in the spring. Another set of community meetings will then take place around June with public hearings following in July to meet the August deadline.

What it all comes down to is what community members have to say at the public hearings.

“It’s a tricky problem,” said Donnelly. “I personally would like to see every UGA defined by homeland capacity and not by trends.”


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