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150-foot setback now applies for Viking Ave. land

Three lots along Viking Avenue are ready for development, but their setback rules may change soon. - Richard Walker / Herald
Three lots along Viking Avenue are ready for development, but their setback rules may change soon.
— image credit: Richard Walker / Herald

POULSBO — Time has run out, or is running out, for two neighborhoods along Viking Avenue proposed to be built under earlier rules allowing development within 40 feet of Dogfish Creek.

Development of 4.6 acres on Viking Avenue south of 305, known on paper as Brighthaven, must begin by June 24, 2013 or the property falls under new rules requiring a 150-foot setback from the creek.

The odds don’t seem to be in Brighthaven’s favor. The current owner, Willamette Property Holdings, tried to auction the property in May, but didn’t receive an acceptable bid, according to Tim Reinertsen of Realty Marketing Northwest. The minimum bid was $405,000. The property is now listed with Terry Burns of Windermere for $299,000.

A one-year deadline extension for Valhalla Village, south of Brighthaven on 2.83 acres, expired Sept. 21. Any development of that property now falls under the new rules.

Site plans expire after seven years if no building permits are submitted and projects do not move ahead. Vikings Landing, 6.38 acres south of Valhalla Village, was approved as a subdivision in 2007, therefore its 40-foot buffer requirement never expires, according to associate city planner  Linda Mueller. However, the future developer has one year to pay for permits and begin construction under the current plan, or the site plan must be resubmitted. The Poulsbo City Council approved the one-year extension Wednesday.

Vikings Landing’s site plan calls for an 18-unit residential building, three six-unit condominium buildings, and a single-family residence on 6.38 acres. 1st Savings Bank currently owns the property.

Like Vikings Landing, Brighthaven and Valhalla Village failed to materialize because of the sinking economy and those sites are now owned by banks or are in receivership.

Valhalla Village is among the first to be bumped by default into tougher wetland buffer requirements under the Critical Areas Ordinance, which was approved in 2008. Those larger buffers have a big effect on development there.  Valhalla Village’s site plan proposed 20 single-family detached units on 2.83 acres; development there is now limited to 1.91 acres. Brighthaven’s site plan called for 50 condominium townhouses on 4.6 acres, but wetlands cover about one-fourth of the site, according to the planning department’s staff report.

Any development of the properties would require archeology and monitoring by the Suquamish Tribe, Poulsbo Planning Director Barry Berezowsky said. “Wider buffers provide two functions,” he said. “There’s clearly more opportunity to enhance water quality, more natural land vexations through which water moves until it reaches the wetland system. The other is wildlife habitat.”

Dogfish Creek is a salmon-bearing stream. The swath of land it meanders through between Highway 305, Viking Avenue, Bond Road and the bay is home to rodents, raccoons, mice, songbirds, deer and coyote, he said. “You’ll actually end up with a bear and a large cat at times wandering in the area,” Berezowsky said.

Dr. Trish Pettapiece, whose chiropractic office is in a 1934 house on 2.16 acres adjacent to Dogfish Creek, said she’s seen deer, rabbits, coyote and field mice on her property. Eagles fly over. Once, a red tail hawk caught a garter snake.

Mayor Becky Erickson, who chaired the Critical Areas Ordinance Working Group which developed the tougher setback rules, said the ordinance is accomplishing what the group hoped it would.

“With these intensive developments that don’t have a lot of open space, the rules from pre-2008 don’t work now,” Erickson said. “I think those developments are going to have a tough time getting financing because they are too intensive. They need more open space and they need to be more respectful of our environment.”

— With reporting by Megan Stephenson

 

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