Kitsap Alliance members testify before the Bremerton Planning Commission on “non-conforming” use.

Jackie Rossworn, Executive Director, Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners, announced that the Kitsap County Shoreline Master Program (SMP) was recently changed. The previous plan called for 100-foot buffers and 50-foot setbacks within the 200-foot shoreline jurisdiction, but the County has come to understand this is not a reasonable request for properties on the Shoreline. In addition, all existing structures that were developed with proper permits have been made conforming uses. The land associated with existing structures is now treated as a yard and considered conforming, as well. This change is consistent with Senate Bill 5451, which relieves the non-conforming status for properties along the shoreline so that financing options are not impeded. She recommended that these changes also be incorporated into the City of Bremerton’s SMP.

Kimberly Ingham, Bremerton, said that up to this point, she has paid her construction costs out of pocket and has not needed a loan. However, she was recently informed by her financial institution (Peninsula Credit Union) that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for her to obtain financing if her property is classified as “non-conforming” because it would prohibit 100% reconstruction in the event of total loss. She was told that in order to be eligible for loans, properties that would be designated as “non-conforming” under the currently proposed language, should be identified as either “legal grandfathered uses” or “legal, non-conforming grandfathered uses.” This change would allow a structure to be replaced entirely, using the same footprint. She summarized the importance of avoiding the stigma of non-conforming properties and submitted an exhibit to staff to further illustrate her concerns.

Chair Hoell asked if other property owners could experience this same problem. Ms. Ingham answered affirmatively. She said the Vice President of Lending from Peninsula Credit Union indicated that her loan would likely be rejected at the appraisal period and not even pass through the system if her property is labeled as non-conforming.

Chuck Shank, Vice President, Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners, suggested the Commission seek input from realtors about how the non-conforming status would impact land-owners along the shoreline. He urged them to carefully consider the non-conforming provisions to make sure they do not harm existing homeowners.

William Palmer, President, Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners, said that as a land-use consultant, he disagrees with the City Attorney’s advice to staff that there is no significant difference between conforming and non-conforming uses, particularly with respect to the SMP. While conforming uses can have issues relative to expansion into buffer areas, they are not required to go away. On the other hand, a non-conforming use, by definition, is supposed to be phased out at some point in time. If a structure sustains significant damage as a result of an earthquake, fire, etc. and is not restored before the twoyear time limit expires, the use would go away. He also asked that the Commission consider the recent changes made by Kitsap County as a result of Senate Bill 5451.

City Planner response:

Ms. Floyd reviewed that the new code would only apply to new development within the first 200 feet from the shoreline. Remodeling, maintenance and repair of existing development would be exempt from the new code, as would minor expansions that are less than 500 square feet. In answer to public concerns, she clarified that the proposed language would allow a non-conforming structure to be rebuilt 100% if it is destroyed by fire, natural disaster, etc. Therefore, financing should not be a problem.

Planning Commission Response:

Chair Hoell reminded the Commission of their initial concern about making the SMP sensible, easy to read and understand, and easy for staff to implement. She also requested staff provide more information about Senate Bill 5451. Commissioner Streissguth further requested that the City Attorney be invited to speak to the Commission about the differences between the County’s SMP and what is being proposed for the City’s SMP. Ms. Spencer advised that staff would provide additional information about Senate Bill 5451 and issues related to “no net loss” as part of the public hearing for the draft SMP.

Bremerton Planning Commission Agenda for January 17, 2012 and Minutes November 15, 2011.

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