In normal times, updating a comprehensive plan is difficult enough, with numerous changes in land-use — such as turning low-density rural lands into high-density urban lands and rarely the other way around.
But now the Kitsap County commissioners find themselves under an order to shrink the county’s urban growth areas and seek renewed approval for a comprehensive plan adopted in 2006. They also find themselves facing many of the same tensions experienced last time around by a different set of commissioners.
Written comments on the two alternatives will be taken until the end of the day Wednesday May 6, 2012
The growth hearings board ruled that the county’s use of four homes per acre as an average urban density was too low, considering that the average density at the time was 5.5 units per acre and increasing. Since then, planners have carefully analyzed growth trends and laid out two alternatives, one with a higher density than the other for various urban zones.
For example, “urban low” would be 6.5 units per acre under Alternative 1 and 6.0 under Alternative 2; “urban medium” would be 14 units per acre under Alternative 1 and 12 under Alternative 2; and “urban high” would be 24.5 units per acre under Alternative 1 and 21.75 under Alternative 2.
The higher the density, the smaller the urban growth area would be. Meanwhile, “rural residential” areas are generally one home for each five acres.
Many people testifying at the hearing were trying to protect their personal investments by keeping their lands in urban areas, while others called for holding back urban growth by returning more areas to rural.