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Keyport aware of conflict in protection standard

KEYPORT — Nearly 50 concerned citizens attended a community meeting in Keyport Tuesday evening to discuss the town’s newest community plan, and what was left out of it.

The proposal is expected to be adopted this fall, but after a sparsely-attended May 22 community meeting, during which 12 of 15 residents voted to keep view protection standards off the plan, several others are expressing a different opinion, and wanted to have their say.

The view protection proposal, which is currently only listed in Appendix F of the community plan and is not among its actual implementations, would limit waterfront property owners to a maximum building height of 28 feet. Keyport’s residential and commercial buildings are now held to Kitsap County’s 35-foot standard, but in an effort to protect views of Liberty Bay, the Olympic Mountains, Mt. Rainier and Dogfish Bay, a special standard for 58 parcels closest to the water could be imposed.

Keyport resident and waterfront property owner Rich Culley said the May 22 decision should stand, and residents who wanted to enforce a new view protection standard should have attended that meeting.

“We made the vote and clearly that was decided,” he said. “Now it seems like we’re opening it back up again.”

Culley said he didn’t appreciate the animosity between waterfront property owners and non-waterfront property owners, and thought everyone should be held to the same building standard.

“I live on the water, I pay for it, it’s my right,” he said. “I take exception to that when you come out and say 28 feet is right. I am not supportive of anything but 35 feet because I paid for that right.”

John Thompson, also a waterfront property owner in Keyport, said he was uncomfortable with imposing the new regulation on such a small group of people.

“The whole concept of view protection to me seems to be based in self interest,” he said. “But for people to want to propose additional regulations on a small minority, you’re trying to get something out of it for yourself… You should do it for everyone, not just a small group.”

The view protection plan was based on codes held by the town of Manchester. The point was made that Manchester’s terrain is much steeper than Keyport’s, where there isn’t much gradation.

Kitsap County Department of Community Development senior planner James Weaver, who presented the community plan, said the May 22 vote was just one tool for input, and further decisions regarding view protection could still be made.

“The public officials are the decision makers now,” he said. “This draft plan is by no means a done deal… Every situation and view is unique. To have a code that applies to all of them is near impossible. If the commissioners feel its something important they want to add, they will add it in the end.”

Weaver said residents who did not attend the May 22 meeting and were unhappy with its outcome could write comments to contribute to the discussion.

“I’ve never had a community that’s so together on land issues, and yet this one element has divided them,” he said. “Letter writing is the best manner to become part of the record and have your voice heard.”

Keyport resident Rhonda Williamson, who attended the May 22 meeting, said she didn’t want to see neighbors against neighbors in her community.

“I’m not in favor of protecting anybody’s view,” she said. “But we need to look at what we are as a community and be friendly with one another. We all need to look beyond ourselves.”

Several of the meeting’s attendees pointed out an online county survey taken by 40 residents — 60 percent considered view protection to be very important and 28 percent thought it was somewhat important — was a better representation of the community’s opinion. Only 12 percent of the online voters thought view protection was not important.

“Out of 541 residents, only 16 people made that vote,” Keyport resident Linda Sullivan-Dudzic said. “They can do 35 feet if that’s what they want to do. We just need some language on this.”

Weaver said while the May 22 consensus will stand, the online vote will also be taken into consideration as the plan continues the adjustment process. A public hearing on the matter will be held at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 14 at the Kitsap County Administration Building on 619 Division Street in Port Orchard. Presentation to the Board of County Commissioners is expected by late September or early October.

“Change in a community always brings this,” Weaver said. “Keyport’s starting to be identified as a nice community. The secret’s kind of out.”

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