About 25 property owners near Tracyton, who are unhappy with the county’s process regarding a proposed development in their area, took on Kitsap County Community Development Director Larry Keeton this week. The group, who call themselves the Tracyton Wetlands Preservation Society, are upset that the county is working with Gig Harbor-based developer SMCI without keeping them informed.SMCI proposes nine single family residences be built on 1.65 acres near Tracyton Boulevard and Kint Drive. Jeff Reed of SMCI submitted his plans in March of this year, but the county denied his project, citing that the short plat did not meet the county’s requirements concerning storm water and drainage mitigation.
In May, Reed appealed that decision to the county’s hearing examiner and a hearing was set for July. But that hearing didn’t take place because the county’s hearing examiner asked Reed to meet with county development officials and begin negotiations to see if the project could be amended to meet the county’s requirements. Specifically, the developer would need to show the county that he has adequate plans to deal with the storm water runoff that will be produced once much of the 1.65 acres is developed.
Neighbors, including Ron Gillespie and Steve Hudock, became concerned when the hearing was cancelled and they were told that SMCI was in “mediation” with the county. “Mediation is suppose to include a neutral third party, according to county code that regulates the hearing examiner process,” said Gillespie. “We just feel the neighbors are being left out of this process.”
To answer those concerns, Keeton agreed to meet with the group on Monday. Throughout the process, and many emails that have been exchanged between Keeton, the neighbors and Kitsap County Commissioners, Keeton has said that the county is just providing the applicant with “due process.” “What the community needs to understand is that we’re allowing the applicant his due process,” Keeton said. “The reason we met with them, per the hearing examiner order, is that, should this appeal move forward to Superior Court, the first question we will be asked is ‘Did you try to work it out?”
In an email to the group, Keeton said if the county doesn’t do that then it looses credibility regarding the process and the rights of the property owner. He said the county has to give the applicant time to develop alternative solutions.
Keeton also questioned if the group’s concern is about storm water control, or is the group’s real concern about density and that more homes will be built in the neighborhood. He told them that Tracyton already has many homes and could be considered an urban area. He said it was in the urban growth area since 1994 and was only recently removed because of a 2006 order regarding the size of UGAs which was upheld by the courts.
Gillespie said he has concerns about both. “With nine homes on that small of lots, there’ll won’t be room for detention ponds,” he said. “My real concern is for the neighbors who live down hill from the project.”
Neighbors said they fear the developer will redraft his plan to meet county code and that it will change so much that it should be considered a new application and he should be forced to start the process over. County officials said it is only a re-submittal of the original plan and that when it is submitted, the county can determine if it is dramatically different than what was originally proposed.
After the meeting, neighbors said they didn’t really feel much better. “We’ll just have to wait and see,” said Gillespie. “Until we see a revised proposal, we really don’t know what the impacts to the neighborhood will be.
To date, the revised plan by SMCI has not been received by the county. But TWPS will receive a copy when it is submitted. The next hearing on the project has been set for Dec. 12.