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Letters - Sept. 16, 2011
Citizens thrown under bus, again
The Silverdale Urban Growth Area boundaries were developed by a citizens’ committee of 20 or so working for over a year. Serious study of GMA and associated regulations was completed as the start point.
Those regulations were considered every step of the way. Frequent public meetings, with open public input, was the methodology employed.
The resultant boundaries in the Silverdale Sub-area Plan were hotly debated and established only after all alternatives were discussed and all thirteen of the established GMA goals were properly considered.
Oh, surprise! The Growth Management Hearings Board ruled Silverdale and Kingston UGA Boundaries violated the Growth Management Act guidelines and County Comprehensive Plan, because the plans did not reflect proper urban density. The county was directed to reduce the size of both UGAs.
Of course the GMHB ignored Supreme Court direction denying them authority to dictate density levels. The less than aggressive and able defense of the will of Kitsap citizens, mounted by our county commissioners and prosecutor, did little more than throw residents of Silverdale, Kingston, and the county under the bus one more time.
I wonder, have our elected representatives read the part of our Constitution about maintaining and protecting individual rights?
Truth be known, the planned boundaries are not expansive enough to accommodate the assumed population growth.
The opportunity to convert existing development to higher density use, called “infill”, was grossly over estimated.
The county directed and assumed seventy percent conversion while a direct study of current property owners put the number closer to 20 percent. That’s a very large area of land not available for higher density development.
No allowance was made for Critical Area and Shoreline buffers that preclude development. Twenty percent of private property throughout the county, including Silverdale, is encumbered by “buffers.”
The citizen planning committee recognized the need for increased street and road capacity in Silverdale. The county determined that mass transit, bicycles, and walking would be just fine for Silverdale. No provision for new streets or for increasing existing street capacity was made. Preserving existing ground water was a major planning consideration. On quarter-acre lots, septic systems are practical. The use of septic systems also provides the recycling that supports aquifer recharge. Higher densities preclude use of septic systems or makes installation more costly and difficult.
Higher density development normally results in sanitary sewer systems that pump scarce fresh water directly into Puget Sound.
Only after significant study, discussion, and thoughtful consideration, did the citizen committee determine that four houses per acre was reflective of the existing Silverdale community and appropriate for creation of new UGA boundaries.
Of note, none of the current commissioners was in office when the Silverdale plan was crafted. At least one commissioner didn’t even live in the county.
It is too bad that our elected officials find it more appropriate to represent land use planning views of King County than Kitsap County. Watch out! Here come those big bus tires one more time.