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Urban trails plan adopted

POULSBO — Poulsbo now has an urban trails plan on the books.

The City Council Wednesday approved the Urban Paths of Poulsbo plan, which identifies established and possible trails that could link the city to a regional trails network.

While city officials say trails will not be developed on private land without the landowner’s permission, some residents are still concerned their land could be taken for trail development.

The city conceded to some residents’ concerns. The new planning map removed the majority of conceptual trails — those possible future trails on the planning map that crossed private property.

However, some continued to speak out against having any lines, conceptual or otherwise, on any land but public rights of way. They also spoke out against trails that cross critical area buffers, such as near streams.

Jan Wold, who owns property in unincorporated West Poulsbo and around Johnson Creek, said trail committee volunteers were not wildlife experts, and the council should have “listened to your experts.” She said testimony from the West Sound Conservation Council and the Suquamish Tribe advised that all trails should respect the boundaries of the critical areas ordinance in regards to streams and shoreline.

Many on the council stated the map continues to be a planning document, not a recreational guide.

“It’s a conceptual trail,” Mayor Becky Erickson said. “That means, there will be a trail somewhere over there [in West Poulsbo] sometime ... It is a planning document.”

Erickson and Councilman Ed Stern said the map places trails along their properties, which they are not concerned about.

Erickson said several factors will come into play before any trail is developed, including funding, environmental review and volunteer effort.

The plan also states the city will only work with a voluntary and willing landowner if a trail is proposed through private property, City Attorney Jim Haney said lines on a map does not mean the city will “take” the land.

John Lee isn’t so sure. Lee and his wife Molly own 34 acres in unincorporated West Poulsbo, but some of that land is in the Urban Growth Area of the city. The Lees are one of more than 20 landowners in West Poulsbo who have signed a petition asking for the city to not put even a conceptual trail line through their land.

“What’s on paper establishes that pattern,” he said. “It’s what it will be in the future ... Have we given up? No.”

The council discussed shifting all conceptual lines to city streets and public spaces, but Planning Director Barry Berezowsky said the document should reflect the city’s intention of putting trails in the UGA.

“We don’t have a plan if we don’t have lines on the map,” Berezowsky said.

Councilman David Musgrove added, “We’re saying we don’t want [trails] along Viking Avenue, we want them out in the woods somewhere, if that’s possible.

“It’s an idea, it’s a general map, its conceptual.”

The supporters of the plan, whether conceptual or not, equaled those who expressed concern. Kate Nunes, who served on the trails committee, said she was tired of bicycling along State Route 305 with the danger of cars, and that this plan can provide off-street bike routes for residents. Poulsbo resident Russ Perisho said a trail runs through his property and he “couldn’t be more pleased.”

“Base your decisions on facts, not on what people fear is in the plan,” he told the council.

The amendments to the Comprehensive Plan and the UPP Plan map can be found on the city’s website at www.cityofpoulsbo.com/planning/comp_plan_2011_2012.htm.

 

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