Neighbors who were ready to attend a hearing on a controversial subdivision planned for Tracyton were disappointed this week to learn that it has been postponed.
According to Kitsap County Department of Community Development planner Doug Frick, the hearing set for Aug. 22 was postponed to allow developer Jeff Reed and the county to begin a mediation process.
Property owner Reed requested the delay after meeting with county officials Aug. 8, Frick said. That meeting was recommended by the hearing examiner who asked that Reed and the county engage in mediation before Reed’s appeal reaches a hearing.
In May, the county denied Reed’s application to build nine single family homes on a single 1.85 acre lot that he plans to subdivide. The county said his plans for storm water detention didn’t meet county’s code.
Reed appealed the county’s decision a few weeks later which is what sent the dispute to the hearing examiner.
Reed met with the county earlier in August, Frick said. Reed asked that the hearing be delayed so he could address concerned cited by the county in its denial of the project.
The property in question sits near Tracyton Boulevard and a private road, NW Gillespie Way.
Reed, who is in business as SMCI Corporation, of Gig Harbor, has said he plans to meet county code regarding storm water issues so that his residential subdivision can go forward.
Frick said it could be a few months before the hearing is rescheduled.
A group of neighbors called the Tracyton Wetlands Preservation Society, who oppose the development, said they have studied the county code and they think the mediation is just a stall tactic to allow the subdivision to go forward.
“What I don’t understand is that the county denied the proposal,” said Joyce Merkel, who opposes the project. “They didn’t say, ‘Here are the problems and now let’s have a re-do and fix them.’”
But Frick said the county code allows for appeals to any land use decisions that the county makes and that the mediation process can be part of the hearing examiner process if warranted.
Ron Gillespie, of the Tracyton neighbors group and who’s home sits directly across from the property in question, said he thinks there is very little that can be done to the property to make it suitable for nine homes.
He said there is already problems with rain water and storm water runoff and that previously, sandy fill dirt was brought in and did nothing to help with the absorbency.
They informed the county that native soils had been removed and fill dirt had been placed on the property years ago which apparently had a negative affect on the already high level water table.
Gillespie issued a letter on Tuesday asking that the county answer his questions about the project and the reason for the mediation.
He said that by county code, a neutral third party should have been present at the Aug. 8 meeting and should be part of the on-going mediation.
“I am hoping that mediation does not try to circumvent or waive any code requirements,” Gillespie wrote in his letter to the county. He contends that the project doesn’t meet county code and if mediation results in major modifications to the project, it would no longer be vested and would need to begin the application process over.
But Reed contends that his engineers can redesign the project with minor modifications to make it meet the county’s storm water regulations.
Gillespie said he is doubtful about that.
“The proposal presented by SMCI (Reed’s company) is not appropriate or compatible with the community,” he said. “All along, we’ve asked to be kept informed and we haven’t been. What we’re learning, we’re learned via the newspaper.”