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Keyport residents protest height restriction

PORT ORCHARD — A dozen Keyport residents spoke up Tuesday night in front of the Kitsap County Planning Commission, nearly all of them setting their sights on keeping a special view protection height restriction for waterfront property owners out of the Keyport Community Plan.

With a vast majority of the speakers opposing a lower building height requirement, the Kitsap County Administration Building in Port Orchard was bursting with encouragement for the commission to adopt the plan as it is, with no further protection standards included.

The draft community plan was first released for public comment July 18. It addresses elements including land use, environment, transportation and sustainability.

Kitsap County senior planner James Weaver has worked with the Keyport community on the agenda, and after a May 22 community vote, which only 16 residents participated in, the decision was made to omit the 28-foot waterfront building standard from the document. Protests arose as other residents, who were not involved in the vote, fought to make view protection language part of the plan, an opinion they expressed in earnest at a July 24 community meeting. Those residents, however, did not show up Tuesday night.

“View restriction language is language I would be opposed to,” said Keyport resident David Evans, one of the dozen who spoke. “We are against that language and would prefer the 30-foot height limits that the rest of the county other than Manchester is observing.”

Keyport resident and waterfront property owner Rich Culley expressed his surprise that the result of the May 22 vote was so adamantly challenged.

“We were told (height restrictions) would not be part of the plan,” he said. “I can’t believe that this happened. It makes no sense to me... Let the Keyport community plan be adopted as written.”

Keyport resident Arthur Kennedy expressed his concern that view protection restrictions would undermine property rights. He said the 35-foot height standard was fair, as it coincides with existing codes.

Resident Gene Warden argued that height restrictions are better meant for larger towns, not rural areas.

“It’s not appropriate for a small village like Keyport,” he said. “I’m very much opposed.”

Ten-year Keyport resident Linda Sullivan-Dudzic, who petitioned for restriction to be included in the plan, said she merely wanted the subject addressed, and was not dead set on the height of 28 feet.

“We never asked for 28 feet,” she said. “We just wanted to discuss it. None of us in the petition wanted to limit waterfront property owners. What we did want was the opportunity to (include) language.”

Sullivan-Dudzic said her goal was for Keyport not to simply default to the county’s 35-foot standard, but to decide one of its own, whatever that height may be.

“Whatever it is, we’ll live with it,” she said.

Weaver said of the 57 comment letters received from the community, the majority indicated an opposition to height restrictions.

The next meeting on the topic is scheduled for Aug. 28 in the Kitsap County Administration Building in Port Orchard, where planning commissioners will discuss and possibly make a recommendation on the issue.

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