Kitsap County Planning Commission activity report.

by Mike Gustavson

September 1, 2009

We held a public hearing in Hansville on the Greater Hansville Community Plan about thirty people were in the audience, some speaking favorably and some against. Repeatedly, I asked both Pete Sullivan, Kitsap County Planner, and the public presenters if they would describe the problem the plan is attempting to solve and none could.

I tried to explain we could adjust the zoning map, the zoning use table or implement design standards and none of this drew traction.

Pope Resources owns 2,000 acres of timber they would like to sell or develop and I pointed out Cascade Land Conservancy in the previous week had completed a purchase from Pope of 2,000 acres of forest south of Green Mountain and they are looking for more tracts in the Hood Canal drainage to purchase.

There were strong feelings among some the opposition that they had been excluded form the process or that they lived in Driftwood Keys or Eglon and this plan did not reflect their communities.

At the end of the evening, I left confused about the purpose. Obviously, if preservation of Pope’s woods is important, buyer and seller are readily available and the purchase merely needs to be facilitated.

Obviously, Hansville has done a wonderful job in developing their community with trails and the forest is important to them, but I’m not convinced there is need to involve the County uniquely in their community. All work accomplished so far has been done as a strictly local effort.

September 15, 2009

We continued the public hearing and deliberated on the Staff’s proposal to remove the Board of County Commissioners from the decision making process in land use issues and replace it with mandatory mediation. The Board of County Commissioners had directed Staff to investigate this potential change in process.

During public testimony, the likely lack of success in the deliberation process, both due to potential inexperience in land use law on the part of the mediator, and likely problems of dealing with a potentially diverse, intransigent, agenda driven group of neighbors and the potential lost time and cost of litigation (up to one year and $10,000 to $15,000), we voted to recommend to the County Commissioners that they retain the current format. Eliminating the Board of County Commissioners from the post-Hearing Examiner appeal process would insulate them from involvement in county land use policy and only serve to drive up the cost of home building.

The scheduled public hearing on commercial and rural industrial zoning modifications was continued to a future date. This issue hinges on resolving Rule RL-8 in the County Comprehensive Plan. RL-8 prohibits expansion of these uses outside Urban Growth Areas and without relief, certain existing business may have difficulty meeting their business needs in their current locations.

We heard in this session and a previous session, public hearings on about 17 rural land use changes, most of which fall into the above category, so resolution of RL-8 is central to our recommendations.

We deliberated our recommendation on the Greater Hansville Community Plan and, over my objections, the Planning Commission voted (8-1) to forward it to the Board of County Commissioner with a favorable recommendation.

The County Commissioners may have to decide if they will entertain potential separate Eglon or Driftwood Shores Community Plans if the citizens feel strongly enough to pursue them. With about 100 distinct communities in Kitsap County, this theme could spread, as it already has from Illahee. Each building permit would need to first be evaluated against the community plan and then against County Code prior to approval, again increasing the cost of home construction.

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