Residents comment on updated county UGAs

To many people, it’s logical to cite an area that already has sewer capabilities as an “urban area” and thus should be included within boundaries to Kitsap County’s Urban Growth Areas.

More than 50 people attended the Kitsap County commissioners’ public hearing Feb. 6 on preliminary drafts to updates to the county’s urban growth areas. Twenty-seven people gave testimony and many addressed the Silverdale and Central Kitsap UGAs with some saying to add or cut specific spaces while others said to be mindful of where utilities already exist and to include those areas.

The county is in the process of updating its Urban Growth Areas — likely reducing their sizes 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, said Eric Baker, special projects director for Kitsap County commissioners.

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, that residents could give public comment on at the hearing. They test not only geographic trends but internal density trends, said Baker.

The county has until the end of August to make changes to the eight UGAs.

Teresa Osinski, executive director of the Home Builders Association of Kitsap County, said in her testimony that the timeline for the process is unreasonable.

“Haste makes waste and this is not an ideal approach,” she said, adding that it’s just an unfortunate situation for the county as well as others working on the process to be in.

Osinski added that one concern on the preliminary alternatives she has is that some of them are shrinking and that “urbanesque” areas may need consideration to be added.

Some of these urban-type areas that need to be added to the UGAs include places that already have sewer lines, several people said at the hearing.

An ongoing example throughout the evening given by residents included the area north of Waaga Way in Silverdale, where sewer exists.

“Put your boundaries where utilities exist. Think about extending out to include these areas,” said Robert Ross, a longtime county resident, who was in support for extending the Silverdale UGA to include the portion north of Waaga Way.

Ron Ross, who is just across from Waaga Way, said he would like to be part of the updated UGA. He has a vision for his property there to be turned into a senior center where there would be space for those 55 years and older to garden or play outdoors with their grandchildren, he said to the commissioners.

Mary Earl, secretary of Citizens United for Silverdale, was also in support for including the portion north of Waaga Way in the Silverdale UGA. She also addressed that the area north of Island Lake should not be included in the UGA since it has separate water and school districts.

“They’ve never aligned with Silverdale,” Earl said. Citizens United for Silverdale is the volunteer-committee pushing for Silverdale cityhood that eliminated most of the Island Lake area from its proposed city boundaries.

Mary Zabinski, a Chico resident, suggested that the commissioners use the alternative 3 option for the Silverdale UGA because she said it would provide the county with a wide range of options from an environmental impact statement.

After commissioners and staff go through the public comments, commissioners will select three alternatives — that may be current versions or new options from the preliminary alternatives — and an EIS will be drafted from the three selected options.

“The purpose of an EIS is to understand a full range of impacts,” Zabinski said, adding that the county has also worked hard on caring for the Chico Creek and Watershed and that to ensure a continual sound plan for the waterways, they should also be included in an EIS.

Some people indicated while the UGA remand is at no fault of the county, commissioners should look into getting local control of the Growth Management Act so that this process doesn’t have to happen again soon.

Jon Rose, who works with Kingston property groups, said that $10 million to $15 million have been spent since 1998 on modifications to UGA and the money — as well as thousands of volunteer hours by community members — are going to waste when the boundaries must be redone over and over again.

“Make some modifications for the [Growth Management Act] to get back local control,” Rose said to commissioners. “I’m sorry for 1,000 hours spent on this by volunteers.”

The Hearings Board ruled in August 2011 that the county’s eight UGAs are non-compliant with the Growth Management Act.

Commissioners plan to discuss the public comments  at their afternoon meeting next Monday. “We want to get the ball rolling,” said County Commissioner Josh Brown.


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