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Residents file petition against Urban Paths of Poulsbo plan
POULSBO — Some residents are still unhappy with the city's walking trails plan and have filed a petition with the Growth Management Hearings Board to have three issues reviewed.
Jan Wold, Molly Lee and Rita Hagwell have all testified in front of the City Council during the process of approving the Urban Paths of Poulsbo plan and maps. The council approved the plan May 16 after three years of research and input from a volunteer citizens’ committee.
The petitioners are appealing the amendments to the city’s Comprehensive Plan, and take issue with the conceptual trail lines that they say cross private property and critical environmental areas, all on the west side of Poulsbo where they live or own property.
"I just feel there should be no trails on private property or within the critical areas buffer of the Johnson Creek area," Lee said. During public hearings, the city seemed to listen to the concerns of private property owners and changed where some, but not all, of the conceptual pink lines were placed on the map.
"I don't know why [the line] was removed from some areas and retained on others. The goal was to have it removed [from] all these areas," Lee said. "That's a question in itself — why the decision itself to retain it within certain properties."
The petition asks the board to review three issues: did the City of Poulsbo violate private property rights, fail to provide adequate notice and public participation, and fail to conserve or protect fisheries and preserve wildlife?
Mayor Becky Erickson couldn’t comment on pending litigation, she said. However, the city had another petition for review filed against them in 2010, she said. As part of Kitsap Citizens for Responsible Planning, Wold filed a petition with the board appealing the adoption of the city’s Comprehensive Plan in 2009. The board ruled in favor of the city in that case.
In this year’s petition, Wold said the language in the Comprehensive Plan “watered down” environmental protections. For example, Wold said, trails along the bay would “wreak havoc” with migratory waterfowl along the bay.
“Conceptual is not a guarantee-able word,” Lee said at a March council meeting, referring to officials’ assurances that property would not be taken by eminent domain.
The city should include language in the plan calling for a trail system on the west side of Poulsbo, instead of marking a map with lines that cross private property, Lee said.
Wold and Lee also said they were frustrated with the public hearing process; they would come prepared with testimony for one version of the plan, but a new draft would be presented at the meeting for comments.
“The city failed to provide citizens with copies of these new maps prior to either of the two hearings or even at the beginning of the hearings,” Wold said in an email.
“This deprived interested citizens of any opportunity to review these heavily amended maps and make comments at the hearings.”
During the planning and public comment process, many on the council stated the map is a planning document, not a recreational guide. Erickson previously stated several factors will come into play before any trail is developed, including funding, environmental review and volunteer effort.
During settlement discussions, the Growth Management Hearings Board suggests the parties meet independently at least once prior to a preheating conference, according to the board website (www.gmhb.wa.gov).
Once a petition for review is filed, the Growth Management Act requires that the board issue its decision within 180 days.