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Critical Areas Ordinance moves closer to adoption

POULSBO — The arduous journey toward the adoption of the city of Poulsbo’s Critical Areas Ordinance is nearing its end as the final public hearing on the environmental regulations is set for June 20.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 7:15 p.m. in the city council chambers in city hall on Jensen Way. The proposed ordinance can be found on the city’s Web site, www.cityofpoulsbo.com.

“People can comment on any aspect of the ordinance they are interested in,” said Planning Director Barry Berezowsky. “There are no restrictions at this point in time.”

Residents can also present information supporting their opinions of the ordinance. This, too, will be included into the public record for the proposed regulations, Berezowsky said.

Such information is critical if the council is to consider those opinions during its deliberations, said Councilman Mike Regis.

“You have to show us what you base it on,” he said. “To me, it’s really a technical document, not a ‘feelly’ one.”

The city had to base its proposed ordinance upon the best available science, and the members of the public should be prepared to do the same before criticizing the regulations, Regis said.

Once the public hearing is closed, no more comments or information can be added to the official record, Berezowsky said.

Even though the public hearing is planned for June 20, that doesn’t mean it will end that night, he said.

“The council could continue the hearing and schedule a follow-up hearing probably sometime in July,” Regis said.

Then again, the council could close the hearing and make the decision to adopt the final draft of the proposed environmental regulations, he said.

“That is up to the council’s discretion,” Berezowsky said.

Once the council decides to adopt the ordinance, City Attorney Jim Haney will then be tasked with crafting the actual adoption ordinance that shows the findings of fact for the decision, Berezowsky said.

“We don’t want to write an (adoption) ordinance until we know what the final decision is,” he said.

After the ordinance is officially adopted, its effective date will determine when the existing citywide moratorium on development on or near critical areas will be lifted, he said.

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

When it comes to potential appeals of the new regulations, Berezowsky said the CAO will be assumed to be valid until the Central Puget Sound Hearings Board officially rules on the issues raised in any appeal.

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