Planning Commission “Rural” Report

by Mike Gustavson, Director

Planning Commission Report for September, 2010

Planning Commission met regarding “The Year of the Rural” August 24, and September 21 and with public hearings August 31 and September 7.

Farmers presented a convincing case that farm regulations in Kitsap County effectively prohibit economically viable farm practices, by disallowing joint operations of production facilities such as community kitchens and slaughtering.  Department of Community Development staff is offering to address this issue in next year’s update of Title 17, but that won’t resolve the next issue.

The conundrum occurs as Rural Commercial and Rural Industrial zoning is concurrently considered.

Rural Commercial and Rural Industrial regulations limits these commercial and industrial practices to the 303 acres of rural land currently zoned for these practices.

Another issue is the rural commercial and rural industrial uses are to serve only the local community, while the farm practices are clearly intended to serve the wider community, and perhaps not be restricted from exporting to wider markets.

Additionally, the difficult issue development regulations for legacy lots, prohibiting Large On-site Septic Systems (LOSS) to conforming (5 acre minimum) lots are not being addressed.  At the same time the county is wrestling with the opportunity of obtaining 7,000 acres of open space from Pope Resources in trade for the 1,000 acre Port Gamble development offer, and allowing LOSS offers another conflict.

The issue of clustered development in forest lands is also not being addressed during our “Year of the Rural”, although this appears to be the appropriate time.

A more basic issue is the county has not defined the term “rural” in its vision statement and then carried the vision statement through to policy.  With only 4% of the rural parcels “conforming” (at least 5 acres in size), the term “rural” has little practical application.  This is a conundrum brought on by the central planning philosophy of the Growth Management Act (GMA).  It’s difficult to comply with GMA when Kitsap is truly a suburban county for which there is no category.

September 21, we began to address Rural Commercial and Rural Industrial Local Areas of More Intense Rural Development (LAMIRD).  The basic ground rules for the Staff was to stick with previous zoning, although they expanded a couple areas a bit.  This is intended to establish the new LAMIRDs while keeping away from potential lawsuits that could derail the program.

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