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Poulsbo City Council approves shoreline plan
POULSBO — After three years, several public hearings, and hundreds of changes to the draft, Poulsbo City Council voted to approve the latest draft of the Shoreline Master Program plan Wednesday evening.
Council members David Musgrove and Linda Berry-Maraist voted against, saying the council did not leave enough time for the public to review the latest changes. In the past two weeks, the plan has been amended twice, accommodating testimony from the public and other parties.
“I know not everyone is happy because it’s not addressing every single thing but … [the plan] is a broad brush document for addressing the environment,” council member Connie Lord said.
Musgrove disagreed, uncomfortable with taking a final vote before the public could view the final plan.
“I realize everyone wants to get this said and done and over with,” he said. “[But] my responsibility and my concerns fall directly back to the citizens of Poulsbo ... I think it’s worthy of doing more due diligence, I think it’s worthy of answering each one of the questions that was presented in testimony.”
A public hearing was continued from the April 18 council meeting, and familiar testifiers presented new as well as continuing issues. Representatives from Liberty Bay Marina wanted more clarification on non-conforming buildings and uses. Port of Poulsbo Commissioner Jim Rutledge, as well as the port’s attorney Cynthia Kennedy, said there were too many inconsistencies that needed to be addressed.
Others were concerned the plan was too restrictive on uses in the downtown business core, impeding future potential growth or redevelopment.
Mayor Becky Erickson took a different tact, reminding the public and the council the 200-foot shoreline buffer was a citizen-led initiative from 1972.
“[The public] won’t have to sit in a restaurant, won’t have to join a yacht club ... won’t have to own a boat and pay for marina costs,” she said.
“They will be able to be down at the shoreline, and I think that’s a pretty terrific thing.
“Because we have shoreline where people have public access to [it], and that’s what we reaffirmed tonight.”
Council member Jim Henry called for the vote. Following more discussion — and even some council approved changes — council members Ed Stern, Connie Lord, Jeff McGinty and Henry voted for approval. Gary Nystul was absent.
“I’m very pleased,” city planner Keri Weaver said. “It’s been a major team effort, and by team I mean the public, the council, the staff, all interested parties, the tribe, state agencies. We all tried to come together.”
Rutledge wasn’t so optimistic.
“There have been many changes in recent weeks and typically you would continue to take reasonable changes for some interval and feel you were done with the document before you actually passed it.”
However, both Rutledge and city staff and council said they are willing to work together to accommodate the port’s growth plans as the port finishes its comprehensive plan.
“If the port should come forward with new comprehensive plan that involved different kinds of projects that they feel maybe they’re not specifically allowed ... they can bring that forward to us ... to see if the SMP will accommodate what [the port] wants to do, and if it doesn’t, ‘let’s propose this change,’” Weaver said.
“I look forward to the city and the port working more closely to together in the future,” Rutledge said.The plan will now be sent to the Department of Ecology, who will open a public comment period for 30 days. If the city concurs with any changes Ecology makes, the draft will become law in a few months.