Poulsbo opens annexation discussions

t Council, planning commissioners hit hot topics of

development and infrastructure.

POULSBO — Poulsbo’s City Council took a crack at a tough subject Wednesday night: annexation.

But it was a discussion as much about development and infrastructure as it was about potential growth, and one that jump-started an ongoing series of workshops designed to prod along the completion of Poulsbo’s comprehensive plan update.

Council members were joined by Poulsbo planning commissioners and North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer. No specific annexations were discussed, instead general policies and goals were up for conversation.

The city of Poulsbo is designated by the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council (KRCC) to have a population of 14,808 by the year 2025, a growth of about 7,000 people.

Planning consultant Karla Boughton said for the Urban Growth Area (UGA) — land on Poulsbo’s outskirts slated by the KRCC to eventually become part of the city — inclusion is not an ‘if,’ but a ‘when.’

The city will at some point expand to its full allotted limits. Already 795 acres in 15 different annexations have been annexed, leaving 35 percent of the UGA still to be brought into the city.

Some major questions faced are how and when the city will continue the annexations, and what factors — development market, property owners — will drive the process.

Council Member Dale Rudolph reminded those in attendance annexation and development are often intertwined topics, but truly are two separate issues.

“Annexation is jurisdictional, and that’s what it is,” he said.

He added it doesn’t automatically grant development rights, and the two matters are often mistakenly combined.

Council Member Becky Erickson, who herself “survived” an annexation that included her 10 acres of Noll Road property before becoming a council member, said the two still tend to come very close together, and many times it isn’t the annexation residents becomes upset with, but the “nature of development that so quickly generally occurs.”

She used the words “terror” and “fear” to describe what some residents feel when large developments greatly change the shape of the place they call home.

“I’ve lived through an annexation, which was hell,” she said. “I think that it’s really important as we go forward that the people that are being annexed have some kind of voice,” adding a level of information flow conducive to comprehending the process should also be provided.

Echoing the thought was Council Member Connie Lord.

“We have to go beyond the call of duty when it comes to notifying the public,” she said.

Boughton said currently there are applications for 772 residential lots, not including pre-applications for developments along the Noll Road corridor and Johnson Creek.

Berezowsky said there could be up to 600 more lots applied for.

Rudolph said one of the major problems the city faces from developments is the lack of infrastructure connectivity, especially when it comes to roadways. Neighborhoods often are designed with exclusivity, which “really doesn’t support the larger city,” he said.

Council Member Linda Berry-Maraist summed it up, saying while it is the city’s responsibility to grow and prevent sprawl, it simply “can’t please everyone.”

Landowner John Lee presented a cessation petition before the discussion began. It held 52 signatures of landowners along the west portion of the Urban Growth Area asking to be removed from the UGA. The area has not yet been annexed, and Lee said leaving the land to the county would not only remove sewer and water shortage difficulties for the city, but would preserve wetlands, forest, a stream, historic barns and allow the citizens to continue in the lifestyle they have built for themselves.

The petition was submitted to the council.

Quade said she thought the council’s conversation was a “good first step.”

Further workshops on various topics including land use designation and the six-year capital improvement plan will be scheduled for future council sessions.

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