Rural Policies in Progress

by Michael Gustavson

Planning Commission report August, 2010

We met August 3.   Our August 17 meeting has been cancelled in favor of 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM session on rural policies August 31.

The Citizens Advisory Groups (CAG) work was not complete as of August 3, but in work study session we reviewed much of it and offered comments which will be taken back to the CAGs. 

The four CAGs are meeting in combined session and Katrina Knutson reported this is working out very successfully.

The hard issue of Legacy Lots will be deferred until next year.  My impression is the County, as with Interim Rural Forest, may be applying a “pocket moratorium”.

The issues of Rural Commercial and Rural Industrial are interesting, but on my terms we are not thinking big enough.  When Silverdale incorporates, the County will lose a huge source of sales tax revenue and has not built an alternative funding source.  Unfortunately, the Growth Management Act (GMA) calls for “isolated cottage industries” and “small scale businesses” in the rural areas.  These, strictly speaking won’t feed the County’s funding appetite.  Industries and businesses currently in our rural areas don’t fit these descriptions.

One difficult question for the County is to define “How small is too small for a developable lot”.

The vision statement contains terms from the 1998 adoption of our Comprehensive Plan that are disturbing:

     “Affordable housing” is not quantifiably defined

     “Open space” calls for “interconnected” wildlife, habitat, greenbelts forested areas and parks.  This could be interpreted as requiring buffers on all upland parcels.

     “Natural Environment” that is “rehabilitated, protected and enhanced”. 

The County needs a realistic vision of “rural”.  Currently only 4% of the parcels in the rural areal are “conforming” five acre or larger parcels.  Kitsap is a suburban county.  All involved recognize this inconsistency with GMA.  It makes drafting a rural policy that matches the intent of GMA a real challenge.


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