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Poulsbo creates plans for annexation

POULSBO — The city of Poulsbo has taken up the timely task of creating a formulaic annexation strategy, and the project is coming none too soon as a Kitsap County-wide emergency moratorium has frozen much of the area’s buildable land for at least 60 days.

While the moratorium, instituted Sept. 24 in certain expanded urban growth areas in Silverdale, Port Orchard, Gorst, West Bremerton and Central Kitsap is not likely to have an effect on Poulsbo in the near future, an extended stop on building could make land in Little Norway look like the tastiest portion of the development pie.

“I think the county’s in a pickle,” said councilman Ed Stern. He added Poulsbo will keep its eye out for an increase in developers looking for a place to build. “We need to remain vigilant. We don’t want to lose Poulsbo in the process and we haven’t so far.”

Though Poulsbo’s own year-long moratorium became a thing of the past in July, the Public Works Committee has begun the process of creating a “how to” manual for further annexations, and Stern said he expects it to be finished by 2008, in time for the next construction season. Should the county’s moratorium continue, Stern said Poulsbo will be ready to handle the possible increase in development requests in a predictable and reliable manner, ensuring haphazard annexations do not occur.

“It should be a formulaic approach to annexation and development,” Stern said. He pointed out that Poulsbo’s development difficulties are “good problems to have,” as it shows an increasing interest in the area.

Councilman Mike Regis said city workers and the council have put in an “extensive amount of work” on the comprehensive plan, which will include the new annexation policies, during the year. He said the city should maintain a broadened viewpoint when approaching necessary sewer and storm water upgrades to accommodate present and future growth.

“We have to make sure our downstream facilities can accommodate them,” he said.

City planner Barry Berezowsky said “there should be no immediate effect” from the moratorium on Poulsbo, and most likely it will be land owners who cannot build that will suffer the most. Should the moratorium continue, he said they could begin looking for new opportunities, and Poulsbo continues to be an attractive place.

“Ultimately the annexation policy... is certainly something we should really embrace. The developers should embrace it also,” he said. “There is certainly no downside in regards to the city taking a little more time and being a little more cautious.”

The county’s moratorium move comes in response to a ruling by the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board, which questioned proposed sewer development in the newly expanded UGAs.

County commissioners have planned for a Nov. 5 hearing during which all viewpoints on the topic — including those of developers — will be heard. Commissioners have expressed a desire to end the moratoriums as quickly as possible.

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