Two projects head to hearing examiner

POULSBO — History will be made Friday afternoon in Little Norway as two projects go before the city’s Hearing Examiner instead of the city council.

A conditional use permit for the construction of an energy substation by Puget Sound Energy and a preliminary plat for the Parkside Planned Unit Development will be heard by a representative from the firm of Driscoll and Hunter beginning at 1 p.m. in the city council chambers in city hall.

The council approved the new system for land use decisions and appeals in January and Driscoll and Hunter was selected to serve as the city’s Hearing Examiner.

“It certainly takes the politics out of it and it will give people a feel for how they operate,” said Mayor Kathryn Quade.

Friday’s hearings should be a good learning experience for those choosing to attend, she added.

Having the hearing examiner in place brings a heightened level of fairness to land-use decisions, said Councilman Mike Regis.

“It saves both the applicant and local jurisdictions a lot of money, resources and time,” Regis said.

Unlike elected officials, who may or may not have a full grasp of the complexities of land use law, the hearing examiner provides the concept of the rule of law into the decisions, Regis said.

PSE officials are proposing to construct an electric distribution substation southwest of the intersection of Lincoln Road and Maranatha Lane.

The new substation will be located on the Foss Corner-USN Keyport transmission line and will contain a 115-12.5 kV, 25 MVA substation with structures.

Two new poles, between 55 and 65 feet in height, will connect the new substation with the existing transmission line along the east side of Maranatha Lane.

Access to the site will be off Lincoln Road. A seven-foot high chain link security fence with vinyl slats will surround the station. This fence and the facility itself will be shielded from public view by landscaping. The new substation is intended to improve electrical reliability in the area by providing reserve capacity in case of outages at the Poulsbo or Miller Bay substations.

The Parkside PUD hearing will decide whether to give the final go-ahead to combine two low density residential areas in the Olhava development into a single area with 185 single family lots.

The total site area is 41.25 acres and plans include a large, informal grassed play area with picnic benches, a gazebo, a tot-lot and a hard play surface for half-court basketball.

A neighborhood meeting about the development was held in September before an application was submitted to the city.

Even though the hearing examiner will be handling the majority of the city’s land-use decisions, the council will be tasked with deciding if it will allow the Sports Zone to move forward. That hearing is scheduled for 7:45 p.m. April 12 and involves a variance request to allow an onsite wastewater tank to be used on the site until the Bond Road Pump Station and State Route 305 Force Main are completed.

The site is located on the northwest corner of Urdahl and Finn Hill roads, where a 41,760-square foot single story, 35-feet high indoor sports facility would be built with 222 parking spaces.

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