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City will extend power to new building on Front Street
POULSBO — With the walls up, windows in place, and seemingly everything in order, Front Street’s newest addition is almost set to show off its new-building charm.
Except for one last detail: The building has no electrical power and, in turn, no lights.
The mostly completed building sits dark. The connection that previously provided power to the site was on a pole on a neighboring property owned by the Sluys family. But making a new connection there became contentious when the new structure was built.
It’s an issue between Front Street neighbors that went all the way to City Hall.
“This has been going on for a very, very long time,” Mayor Becky Erickson said at the City Council’s Feb. 5 meeting. “We have tried many different alternatives to figure out how to get power into this building — I’m going to be very blunt here — because of some very uncooperative neighbors.”
The Poulsbo City Council approved a new power line in the downtown area on Feb. 5. The neighborly dispute made powering the new building rather difficult. The city’s engineering department made a request for a new power line to the building owned by Blue Bay Holdings.
“This is an emergency request,” City Engineer Andrzej Kasiniak said while addressing the council. “Blue Bay Holdings is completing construction of a building on Front Street. They came to us and requested permission to get a power drop from the pole located on the corner of King Harald and Front Street.”
The line will be considered temporary. The city plans to dig under Front Street in 2017 to tend to a water main and will place the line underground at that time.
Kasiniak said the new line would be the least disruptive to downtown traffic, and the least expensive solution at present time. Blue Bay Holdings wasn’t able to re-establish the same power connection it previously had, behind Front Street, he said.
“It used to be served from 3rd Avenue,” Kasiniak told the council. “When [the] building was demolished, they removed a pole on the adjacent property. When they wanted to reinstall this pole, they didn’t get permission from the adjacent building.”
“That’s why we couldn’t connect this building from 3rd Avenue, and that’s how most of the (Front Street) buildings are connected to power,” he added.
Erickson said the council’s approval was necessary after fruitless negotiations between the Sluys family and Blue Bay Holdings.
“It was an incredible lack of cooperation by the neighbors,” she said.
Marion Sluys, however, said the connection was offered to Blue Bay Holdings. Sluys owns one of the neighboring buildings; his son, Dan, owns the other.
“We didn’t have a problem with them putting the electrical again over the same route they did before,” Sluys said.
The line would have crossed over a parking lot, owned by the Sluys family, behind the new building; however, the family has plans for that property. They would like construct condominiums with underground parking at an undetermined future date. This would require Blue Bay’s power connection to be moved.
“One requirement would be if we allowed them to do that, any movement of that power line would be at their expense, and they refused,” Sluys said.
The disagreement took the property owners to Olympia for mediation, but no agreement was found.
“Historically, the power to our building came from the 3rd Street pole,” said Jim Cecil of Blue Bay Holdings. “As was stated in the City Council meeting, our neighbors have not granted permission for the power to come from the 3rd Street pole to our building. Therefore, we are accessing power from the front of our building.”
He added, “It is our hope that this new building will enhance the beauty and value of historic downtown Poulsbo, in addition to attracting more business to our local community.”
The building has been under construction over the past few months, at the site of the former Voodiez Bar and Grill. The 100-year-old building was showing its age and was torn down in early 2013 to make way for the new-and-improved structure. It is slated to house multiple businesses between two floors — including Boomer’s Pet Boutique — and a rooftop patio with a fire place.