Opinion

No flush, no rush

When the Kitsap County Commissioners unanimously enacted a moratorium in the recently added urban growth areas in Central Kitsap, Silverdale, West Bremerton, Gorst and Port Orchard, the not-so-unexpected barrage of public criticism began and rightfully so.

The moratorium was in response to a recent ruling by the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board, which raised concerns over the county’s ability to provide adequate sewer services to large-scale urban residential development and commercial and industrial projects.

The dreaded m-word leads us to wonder who forgot about the need to flush during the comprehensive planning meetings, which led to the recently added areas.

County officials contend that the prohibition will last six months in the worst-case scenario, but are hopeful it will be resolved sooner rather than later.

Local history has shown us that six-month moratoriums are more akin to fairy tales of heroic princes saving pristine princesses from dark, fire-breathing dragons. Just ask the developers in the Poulsbo area and the Poulsbo City Council what it takes to bring an end to a moratorium, which was enacted in September 2006 for an updated Critical Areas Ordinance and a Planned Residential Development Ordinance. We guarantee they’ll tell you it’s closer to a year than six months. Theirs finally ended in July.

Not only did the city lose out on state funding, but developers had projects put on hold or scrapped all together, because their best made plans fell to the consequences of poor planning and inaction by those trusted to pave the path for uninterrupted development.

Poulsbo’s excuse was the Waldo-inspired, Little Norway tale dubbed, “Where’s city hall?” We have to wonder what the county’s excuse is on this one.

Yes, there’s a perceived budget crisis, but that’s a financial issue, not a planning one, so the obvious question has to be if the transportation and water plans met the hearings board’s standards, why didn’t the sewer plan? Or was there even an intelligible sewer plan submitted that included hard numbers and not the mere conjecture of sewer lines suddenly emerging from Mother Earth to protect her beloved Sound?

Developers are losing the shirts off their backs and because stuff rolls down hill, their employees and their families will face a bigger pinch, so who is going to compensate them for their losses, which they are in no way responsible for?

If this moratorium was caused by an unseen act of God or the state Legislature, those impacted might be able to find some level of understanding, but with all of the hundreds of hours spent on creating these new UGAs, that’s similar to hoping to find a snowball in the sands of Yakima on the Fourth of July. It just won’t happen.

County officials had more than enough time to consider the sewer issue during this process. However, that thinking was flushed down the drain instead of being brought to the table like it should have been.

What’s to say this won’t happen again? The sewer issue was so obvious that someone could have pointed it out, and this miscue deals a great blow to the faith and trust the development community has in its government counterparts, if it had much at all.

In short, kudos to the hearings board for realizing that if you can’t pull the handle, you probably shouldn’t move in, much less build it. One giant downward flush to all those who let it get to this point and put a major clog in the line that even Roto-Rooter will be hard-pressed to clear. Maybe Silverdale should have become a city when it had the chance, because at least then it might have had leaders who don’t forget to flush.

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