Commissioners vote against vacating Washington Blvd.

PORT ORCHARD — In an Aug. 13 decision illustrating the strength of the Kingston Citizens Advisory Council, the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners denied a request for vacation of right of way property on Washington Boulevard in Kingston.

Community members and area residents spoke against proponent Marc Myrsell’s desire to acquire a section of land near the acreage he currently owns along the thoroughfare, citing the Kingston Sub-Area plan’s recommendation to prevent such vacating and preserve open space. KCAC members felt this solidified their ability to influence county choices that will affect Kingston.

“This is a really important decision,” said KCAC member Walt Elliott, who attended the hearing. “The commissioners really took notice of what is important to Kingston.”

Myrsell said he will try for the vacation again, and will include the community group and nearby residents in his petition.

“It’s not what we wanted,” he said. “I think it’s a mistake on the part of the board and the county. Kitsap County has had trouble with Washington Boulevard and the road and having a right of way on a slope, they haven’t done much about it.”

Myrsell said if he was to acquire that piece of property, he would work to reinforce the 45 degree drop off and perhaps, in several years, build there. Neighbors were concerned about the potential construction, and voiced their thoughts at an Aug. 1 KCAC meeting.

Kitsap County Public Works right of way agent Molly Foster said Myrsell does have the right to petition again for the vacation, but unless circumstances drastically alter within the community, she doubts it will pass the second time.

“The first time the petition came through the county, it was denied because of stormwater issues,” she said. “They worked those out, and he reapplied. Once there is a decision from the board, unless something glaringly changes, I couldn’t imagine the petition would pass.”

She said if the KCAC was won over by Myrsell, that could change the outcome the second time because the county staff approved its section of the petition.

Commissioner Steve Bauer said he doubted it would be approved if the vacation was before the board again.

“No, I don’t even know how or why that would happen,” he said. “The area plan designated that area as green space. It’s an area people go by for walking and hiking. I’m working with the county to give me a map of all the area’s undeveloped property to figure out what of the undeveloped land we can preserve.”

Though Myrsell said he wouldn’t be building on the property for quite some time, and only if the slope was completely reinforced and safe, Kitsap County Department of Community Development assistant planning director Jim Bolger said Myrsell made it clear he would seek a reasonable use exemption, meaning he would be able to build contrary to normal codes and designations.

“It is usually a fairly difficult process to receive one,” Bolger said. “It does allow a person to put a house or structure on property that usually wouldn’t be allowed. It could contribute to the environmental degradation of the slope. Had that right of way been vacated and ownership acquired, I would have expected a reasonable use exemption.”

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