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CAO finally passed by council

POULSBO — After more than two years of starts, stops and brief interruptions, the Poulsbo City Council finally adopted the city’s new Critical Areas Ordinance Wednesday night.

However, that doesn’t mean the existing citywide moratorium on development in or near critical areas is over just yet.

After the ordinance is officially adopted, its effective date will determine when the existing citywide moratorium on development that may impact critical areas will be lifted, planning director Barry Berezowsky said.

“They would need to make a motion to rescind the moratorium,” he said. The adoption of the new CAO won’t automatically remove the suspension.

“It took awhile, but we stayed on task and got it done,” Councilman Mike Regis said. “It’s definitely a plus to our viability as a community.”

The new ordinance identifies critical areas in greater detail than previous regulations passed in the mid-1990s, Regis said.

“The science has gotten so much better, and we were able to take advantage of that,” he said.

Although the council managed to adopt the ordinance, in doing so, council members decided against the majority of residents who voiced their opinions at Wednesday’s public hearing.

“I feel more time is needed to address the changes to the May 2007 Critical Areas Ordinance,” Poulsbo resident Jan Wold said.

The ordinance, which was adopted Wednesday night, wasn’t posted on the city’s Web site until Monday, she said, leaving residents just two days to review the latest draft.

“I do feel you need to continue tonight’s hearing to allow the public to comment on the new document,” Wold said. “There will be an impact for hundreds and hundreds of years.”

Since all of her comments pertained to the May 2007 draft of the CAO, Wold said she wasn’t prepared to speak on the new document.

Poulsbo attorney Bob Hawkinson agreed with Wold’s desire to give the public more time to review the ordinance before council action was taken.

“We have to take a little time and let people digest this thing,” Hawkinson said.

Based upon the small contingent of people at Wednesday’s council meeting, those most affected by the new regulations probably aren’t aware of those impacts, he said.

“If you don’t give people time, you could end up with another issue like city hall,” Hawkinson said, referring to the ongoing city hall debate that resulted in a citywide advisory vote in November 2006 that let residents decide the location.

John Johnson, who participated in the city’s CAO working group, asked the council to allow additional time to address the wetlands buffer issue before adopting the ordinance.

Although the stream buffers and setbacks received a great deal of attention during the CAO review, the wetlands issues are equally important, Johnson said.

“I ask you to provide additional time,” he said. “I know this has been a very drawn-out process.”

However, at the conclusion of the public hearing, the council adopted the ordinance leaving City Attorney Jim Haney to prepare the ordinance for the new CAO.

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