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Puget Sound Regional Council wants public input

By CHARLIE BERMANT

Kitsap County writer

The Puget Sound Regional Council has added a third public meeting to its review schedule — a Tuesday night meeting in Port Orchard.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. in the Commissioners’ Chambers in Port Orchard and its purpose is to solicit public testimony about proposed changes to the agency’s draft VISION 2040 planning document.

“This is an opportunity for people to say what is on their mind about what we have done so far,” said PSRC Director of Growth Management Norman Abbott. “This is for people who have an interest. This work is reaching a conclusion and it is their last chance to provide feedback.”

This week, the Kitsap County commissioners issued a letter encouraging residents to attend the meeting, calling VISION 2040 an important strategy document that “will have long-term implications for our citizens, the region and Kitsap County’s overall land-use policies, transportation systems, economic development and environmental planning.”

“The 2040 document is a regional plan,” said South Kitsap Commisisoner Jan Angel. “But it will affect everyone in Kitsap County. Much of it sounds good, but it could take a lot of control out of the hands of local government. If the county doesn’t adhere to some of its rules, it will be in deep trouble. So we need to understand what it requires before it is approved.”

Angel said much of what the PSRC advocates is “regional, which means that the direction comes from across the water. I am concerned that we could lose local control.”

According to the PSRC, VISION 2040 is the region’s new draft strategy for enhancing the region’s environment and overall quality of life while meeting the needs of the additional 1.7 million people and 1.2 million jobs expected by 2040.

It includes an environmental framework, data and policies and measures actions designed to achieve regional goals and sustain the region’s quality of life well into the future.

When approved in 2008, the document will not become law. But it will serve as a source for judges to rule on various land-use issues.

The Port Orchard meeting will be held simultaneously with meetings in Edmonds and Auburn. Abbott said the PSRC originally scheduled only two meetings, but added the third after a request by the Kitsap County commissioners.

As outlined, the process isn’t easy. Those who want to comment need to log on to www.psrc.org. and respond to comments that are already on the record.

While this will cover most topics, Abbott said attendees can just walk in and speak their mind about a topic whether it pertains to existing comments or not.

PSRC develops policies and coordinates decisions about regional growth and transportation planning in King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties. It is composed of more than 80 county, city, port, transit, tribal and state agencies serving the region. It coordinates the distribution of about $160 million in Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration funds each year.

PSRC sets priorities and evaluates the most efficient ways to target those funds to support state and local transportation, growth management and economic development plans.

For more information, go to www.psrc.com.

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