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Calls for more protection in county shoreline plan

POULSBO — Area residents praised the latest draft of the Kitsap County Shoreline Management Program. However, many said it didn’t go far enough in protection of the environment, and too far in the “criminalization” of residents.

The county Planning Commission held a public hearing at Poulsbo City Hall June 11, where twice as many residents testified than at the previous public hearing June 5.

“I want my property to have the strictest level of protection,” Bainbridge Island resident Maradel Gale said. Gale sits on the island’s planning commission.

The county says in the SMP that regulation of natural areas enhance property values, as does protection of wildlife viewing and recreational opportunities.

The SMP is a state-mandated document that must provide three goals for the management of shorelines: no net loss of ecological value or function, protect public access to the shoreline, and prioritize water-dependent uses. The plan’s jurisdiction includes 200 feet inland from the ordinary high-water mark, covering 292 miles of marine, lake, river and stream shoreline in the county.

Jon Rose, president of Olympic Property Group, testified for more flexibility on the designations around Port Gamble’s shoreline. Rose said OPG is ready to hold public meetings on the town’s master plan, which includes plans for waterfront development that would not be allowed in the current SMP draft.

OPG and its parent company, Pope Resources, have cleaned up the town’s former mill site for the last 13 years, but much of the shoreline is manmade fill.

“We will improve the habitat no matter what,” Rose said.

More than 50 percent of the county’s shoreline is proposed to be labeled Rural Conservancy, 22.5 percent Shoreline Residential and 19 percent Natural. The county is proposing to increase the critical area buffers in the most sensitive areas, Natural and Rural Conservancy, and are actually reducing the buffers in Shoreline Residential areas.

Many who testified said more shoreline should be designated Natural.

“Where in doubt, take greater protection,” Poulsbo resident Ron Eber said. “We take for granted what we have here ... there’s no other shoreline like this in the country.”

Under the Enforcement and Penalties chapter, the plan states any person who willfully violates the rules and regulations could be charged with a gross misdemeanor, which includes a fine between $25 and $1,000 or a maximum 90-day jail sentence. Many asked the Planning Commission to remove the criminal penalties section.

The county needs to submit the plan for approval by the end of 2012 to the Department of Ecology. Ecology provides much of the plan’s guidelines to jurisdictions around the state, but many SMPs are also based on existing inventory characterization — the jurisdiction’s own policies, such as critical areas ordinances. County officials first began gathering data for their SMP in 2008, walking the shoreline for samples and mapping. The county SMP was last updated in 1999.

Written comments will be accepted by the Planning Commission until June 28, and the commission will discuss the changes at its next meeting July 24. The commission will then make its recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners, which will also deliberate and hold public hearings on the plan this fall.

More information can be found at www.kitsapshoreline.org. Watch the hearing at http://bkat.pegcentral.com/player.php?video=ea48bea2ce108f2f8b7b0a522ae8100b.

Editor's note: Comments attributed to Teresa Osinski of the Kitsap Home Builders Association have been removed from this version.

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