Kitsap County Department of Community Development planner Doug Frick confirmed Tuesday that a hearing on a proposed single family residential development near Tracyton has, once again, been postponed to May 22.”We’ve allowed the developer more time to do more tests to determine if he can come up with a suitable plan for storm water runoff,” Frick said. “We are hoping that this will be the last extension.”
And so are the neighbors. “This is the fifth change of dates for the hearing,” said Ron Gillespie, a neighbor near the proposed development. “The callousness that the county has shown the community is unacceptable.”
The hearing on the development had been scheduled for July 12, of last year, then Aug. 22, then Dec. 12, and then March 13. It is now set for May 22.
In May of last year, the county denied developer Jeff Reed’s original application to build nine single family homes on a single 1.85 acre lot which he plans to subdivide. The county said his plans for storm water detention didn’t meet county’s code. The property in question sits near Tracyton Boulevard and a private road, NW Gillespie Way.
Reed, of SMCI Corporation based in Gig Harbor, appealed the county’s decision which sent the dispute to the Kitsap County hearing examiner. The hearing examiner asked that Reed and the county look at ways to solve the water issues prior to Reed’s appeal being heard.
Those negotiations are on-going. “He’s brought in some consultants and it looks as if there may be a way for him to deal with the storm water runoff,” Frick said. “He is now going to be doing some drilling to see if they can reach down through the fill level to determine whether the soil below is absorbent. He’s got to be able to demonstrate that they can get true infiltration or the county’s not going to sign off on the project.”
Frick said Reed made a compelling case for more time and that “made it unreasonable for us to say ‘no.'”
He said the delay is not harming neighbors because they are able to continue to go about their lives as the further tests are made. “I know they want a decision and resolution to this,” he said. “But we have to give the developer every opportunity to adjust his current project to meet county code or else he has to start the application process all over.”
Frick said the things that Reed is doing are considering minor changes to a vested proposal. If he makes major changes to the proposed development, he will have to submit a new proposal.
Reed has previously said he plans to meet county code regarding storm water issues so that his residential subdivision can go forward.Throughout the process, Gillespie and other residents of the area have formed a group called the Tracyton Wetlands Preservation Society. They oppose the development.
They contend that the developer has excavated natural soil and replaced it with fill dirt and that that has already impacted the neighborhood by exacerbating water run-off issues. They informed the county that native soils had been removed and fill dirt had been placed on the property years ago which apparently had a negative affect on the already high level water table.
The group hired their own hydrogeologist and engineer to do independent tests and identify where the proposed development doesn’t meet county code. They have met with county commissioners and department of community development personnel and still, they feel slighted by the postponements.”When is enough enough?” Gillespie asked in a letter to the county.
He said neighbors are worried that the developer is being given more time which will result in more changes to the original proposal. They think that should mean that he has to re-apply to the county with his new plans. “While all this is going on, the community is left to dangle and hope that the next hearing will actually be held,” Gillespie said. “We need some support here.”
Reed and other officials with SMCI did not return phone calls for comment.