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Council takes crack at PSRC VISION 2040

POULSBO — Little Norway’s city council took a shot at the Puget Sound Regional Council VISION 2040 draft Wednesday night. The plan is an update to VISION 2020, the region’s current growth strategy.

PSRC assistant planner Yorik Stevens-Wajda presented a 12-minute video narrated by PRSC chair Mike Lonergan and answered the council’s questions regarding the draft’s regional growth, multi-county planning and environmental strategies. VISION 2040 is geared to address the anticipated addition of 1.7 million people and 1.2 million jobs in the region by 2040. Of those numbers, 12,000 people and 8,000 jobs are expected in the Poulsbo and Port Orchard areas, Stevens-Wajda said. Kitsap County as a whole is expected to see 149,000 more people and 65,000 more jobs.

In the draft, Poulsbo is designated in the small cities category along with Port Orchard. Currently the draft determines Silverdale and Bremerton as Kitsap’s regional growth centers, which are given transportation funding priority.

Councilman Ed Stern suggested the PRSC consider qualifying Poulsbo as such a center, and noted the city acts as a transportation hub to the county.

“I wanted to bring up Poulsbo because we’re actually at a critical bottleneck for Western Washington,” he said. “More than Silverdale, we’re a point for multiple directions of traffic, now and growing in the future. Silverdale is basically a conduit that moves north and south.”

Councilman Dale Rudolph said Poulsbo has already been recognized as a major transportation thoroughfare, as evidenced by the State Route 305 widening project. The city is referenced as a sub-area or secondary area of regional growth, he said.

Stern agreed, and said it may be more fitting as Little Norway desires to keeps its small-town feel.

Stevens-Wajda explained to the council that regional growth centers are designated based on the prioritization of transportation funding and growth and development expectations for an area.

Councilman Jim Henry said Silverdale is a better candidate in that it is open to more growth. The type of development occurring there would cause “a civil war if they ever tried that in Poulsbo,” he said. He said he thought the PSRC had simply taken the path of least resistance.

“They’re looking at how much population they can spoon into a small space,” he said.

Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade agreed. “Be careful what you ask for,” she said.

Stern also chastised the plan for not including plans regarding telecommunication.

“We are woefully blind to the value and application of telework using high speed fiber optic connections,” he said. “It’s not in the plans... They’re missing the boat as is the United States as a whole.”

Stern argued for an improvement in telecommuting to reduce transportation costs and environmental degradation, and said decrease in gridlock would keep taxpayers from shelling out more money for expanded bridges and roadways.

Rudolph lauded the PSRC plan for addressing the balance of jobs and housing.

The PSRC is no longer accepting public comment regarding VISION 2040 for the official record, though Stevens-Wajda said remarks are still welcome. To view the plan in its entirety, visit www.prsc.org.

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