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Poulsbo City Council unanimously approves Edward Rose & Sons’ 305/Bond neighborhood

A look at the proposed Edward Rose & Sons neighborhood at State Route 305 and Bond Road. The Poulsbo City Council is expected to vote on the project June 28. - City of Poulsbo
A look at the proposed Edward Rose & Sons neighborhood at State Route 305 and Bond Road. The Poulsbo City Council is expected to vote on the project June 28.
— image credit: City of Poulsbo

POULSBO — The Poulsbo City Council unanimously approved Edward Rose & Sons’ proposed neighborhood at State Route 305 and Bond Roadm, in a special meeting Tuesday.

The 55-acre neighborhood will have 540 apartments on 46 acres — 11.7 units per acre — with a community center and swimming pool and a central park with pedestrian paths; and commercial area and 160-room senior care apartments on 9.2 acres, with pedestrian plazas, a public park, a shared-use path, transit stops and streetscape landscaping.

The retail stores in the commercial area would feature upper-floor apartments to contribute to an urban village feel; those units are not included in the number of units to be developed because the city does not count residential units in areas zoned commercial.

A road, currently named Road A, would be developed from Bond Road to Vetter Road, with vehicle connections to 305 and pedestrian connections to Viking Way. Vehicles could enter the neighborhood from 305 with a right turn only; vehicles leaving the neighborhood at 305 would be able to turn right only.

Setbacks and buffers are designed to protect two streams and three wetlands. Stormwater would be controlled with porous pavement and rain gardens with amended soil to increase water retention.

Paul Mott of Edward Rose & Sons said construction on the first phase could begin in spring 2012. The project engineer is Team 4 Engineering in Poulsbo, the architect is Charlie Wenzlau of Wenzlau Architects on Bainbridge Island, the landscape architect is Eric Schmidt of Cascade Design Collaborative in Seattle.

This will be Rose's first neighborhood development in the West; another similar neighborhood is proposed in the Tri-Cities area.

The Poulsbo neighborhood is being developed with a master plan, which allows the developer some benefits but also gives the city input on amenities, design and public improvements. In addition, any deviations from the master plan would require City Council approval.

"This is a culmination of what we have been trying to achieve (with the master plan process),” Planning Commission Chairman Ray Stevens told the council, “protection of sensitive areas, nice building designs … a good developer has come here who can fit within the rules and make this thing work.”

Councilman Ed Stern said the neighborhood will meet rental needs as Olympic College grows -- he said the state has budgeted for two more buildings at the Poulsbo campus – and it promotes the neighborhood walkability and commuter connectivity the city wants to achieve. Mayor Becky Erickson said Kitsap Transit has received a $1.9 million grant to build a North Kitsap park-and-ride center on its property on Vetter Road, within walking distance from the new neighborhood.

In the end, the council approved the project with these modifications: easing building height restrictions from 35 to 45 feet to preserve three-story design and peaked roofs; limiting commercial uses to retail food sales; requiring supplemental native plantings where the buffer between buildings and the property line is less than 50 feet; and requiring construction to begin within seven years, with possibility of a three-year extension, a recommendation of the Planning Commission.

The new neighborhood is expected to boost Poulsbo’s population by about 15 percent.

There have been some changes to the plan since it was initially proposed. The entrance to Road A has been moved east, about midway between 305 and Big Valley Road, farther away from Dogfish Creek and protected open space. A left-turn lane will be added to the Bond Road entrance and the state Department of Transportation will require the developer to install a traffic signal at Bond and Big Valley Road. City Engineer Andrzej Kasiniak said those measures would actually improve traffic flow at the 305 and Bond intersection, although the improvement is slight — from an average 48.3-second wait to 47.9 seconds.

In addition, the developer will pay to widen the shoulders of Bond Road from Road A to 305 from four to six feet, making it safer for bicyclists and pedestrians, Kasiniak said.

Those involved in the Rose project said they want to create a unique village of single-family and senior care apartments, neighborhood businesses, pedestrian paths and open space, a place where residents can “age in place.”

“We’re creating a community, rather than another development,” Councilwoman Connie Lord said.

But most people in attendance at the Planning Commission meeting Thursday feared the size of the development outweighs mitigation measures on the site.

Gene Bullock of the Audubon Society said stormwater doesn’t get the consideration it deserves in development discussions. Stormwater, unbridled by plant and tree removal, scours creeks and buries estuaries in silt, he said. “It’s one of the reasons we’re losing our salmon stocks.”

Bullock said he likes some of the measures the developer proposes to control stormwater, “but rain gardens and buffers don’t replace natural buffers ... We’re incrementally losing our natural buffers. It’s death by a thousand permits.”

Richard Frederickson of Big Valley Road said he’s “very upset” about the proposed neighborhood and how it would affect animal and plant life. He said he’s seen bear, salmon, skunks and other species in the area proposed for development. “It’s very elegant," he said of the proposed neighborhood, "but all I see is a degrading of our quality of life ... This seems to be the wrong location for this.”

Vetter Road residents expressed concern that their road, which they describe as a “one-lane country road,”  would be transformed as motorists drive from Bond Road through the neighborhood to Vetter Road to Viking Way.

Phil Colcord of Vetter Road said the city Planning Commission once “guaranteed” that Vetter Road would not be used as access to neighboring development. “They recognized the beauty of our one-lane country road,” he said.

He said 305 has become congested again despite improvements in the last decade, and he fears Vetter Road could take some of that congestion as motorists start using Bond Road/Road A/Vetter Road as an alternative to waiting at the 305/Bond intersection.

“Our quiet, country lane will be lost forever,” he said.

Karen Grooms of Sherman Hill Road said Johnson Creek, which flows from the Olhava area to Viking Way to Liberty Bay, is an example of how development can negatively impact streams despite efforts to minimize the impacts of development.

“Johnson Creek has never been the same,” she said. “We need to rebuild Viking Way, not take out every blessed tree.”

Another resident agreed. He said he remembers when Poulsbo Place was developed, replacing the “projects” that were there. But infrastructure was already installed in that area. “This doesn’t do the same thing,” he said. “It’s not appropriate for this area.”

Planning Commissioner Kate Nunes said she supported the project but was concerned about the project’s lack of bicyclist and pedestrian connectivity with the rest of Poulsbo.

“It’s 6/10s of a mile to Central Market from Bond and 305. But to safely get there (by sidewalk), you have to route through downtown if you’re not willing to walk Bond Road or Highway 305.” She said that could be solved with a crosswalk at Bond and Big Valley roads; Big Valley turns into Little Valley, which leads to 10th Avenue.

Another concern: Pedestrians will have one option to get to Viking Way — walk a half-mile north on Vetter Road to Viking Way, then loop south to get to shopping and other Viking Way amenities. Kasiniak said the city is negotiating with the county for an easement across the Poulsbo Recycling Center property, reducing that connection to Viking Way in half.

“I thought the development looked good," Nunes said. “I like what they did with the site. But if we have the connections, that would be a good thing.”

Luanne Hill lives on a stretch of Vetter Road that is outside of the city limits. But until Road A is developed, Vetter Road provides the only access to the site for construction equipment. "Two cars can't pass on this road," she said. "The city has to address Vetter Road."

Neighbor Jeff Haines has lived his entire life in the 1949 log cabin his father built, on acreage shared with bears, deer and rabbits. "You can go an hour or two without a car going by," he said. Of the proposed development, he said, "It's too big, too intense. I have nothing against someone developing their property, but I think this is overkill."

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