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Plat pledge irks Mayor

"POULSBO - It wasn't on the agenda. In fact, most members of city council didn't know about a special Wednesday night session between officials from Security Properties, Inc. and the city engineer until just prior to the discussion. What happened at the gathering is somewhat unclear, but it's aftermath is already making big waves that are swamping their way through Poulsbo's government structure. The session was initially scheduled because the two sides were having some communication difficulties, according to councilman Ed Stern. Indeed, there have been some ongoing unresolved issues between the engineering department and SPI, which is currently building the 164-house Poulsbo Place development. Points of contention have been numerous as far as bonding and building go. The most recent issue involved impending construction of Iverson Road and whether or not SPI could receive final plat approval prior to creating the connecting route. While contractor Larry Ward said SPI could bond the road and build it later, city engineer John Stephenson has stated that some progress on Iverson must be evident before the plat gets a rubber stamp from his office. Without a final plat, developers of Poulsbo Place cannot legally sell homes at the Jensen Way site - a stipulation they have agreed to on several occasions. Nonetheless, a number of house sales are scheduled to close at the development on Sept. 22. Those planned sales prompted last Wednesday night's ad hoc meeting which was attended by several SPI officials, including the company's attorney. Councilman Stern, who scheduled the meeting, called the session an informal get together which was slated because Stephenson was unable to attend last Wednesday's council session. The meeting took on a negative air, Stern said, when councilman Mike Regis reportedly walked in and made several promises to SPI that the city cannot keep. I'm sure he meant well but I think he was reacting out of habit and put on his career cap as staff member, Stern said, explaining that Regis' history as a city staff member apparently clouded his judgment on the issue. It's a fine line that can't be crossed. He got a bit carried away. Councilman Regis' pledge that city staff would do everything they could to help SPI meet their Sept. 22 deadline, including working overtime, irked Mayor Donna Jean Bruce who felt her authority as well as that of the council had been usurped. I strongly object to comments you made at this meeting, Mayor Bruce wrote in a Sept. 7 memo to Regis. You are not in a position to commit to such a process. The mayor directs city staff... I find your disregard of proper protocol not only offensive but baffling. So did fellow council members Stern and Jeff McGinty, who also sat in on the Wednesday night meeting. I stood up and (told the SPI officials) he has no more right to commit to you than myself or councilman Ed Stern, McGinty explained this week. His committing city resources wasn't appropriate. Only the mayor and full council can give such direction. Councilman McGinty said he felt Regis' comments could have easily misled SPI officials into believing that city engineering staff would drop whatever it was doing and work on the final plat for Poulsbo Place. To meet the Sept. 22 deadline, city council would have to approve the plat at next Wednesday's regular session - something which Stephenson said would be a stretch. He did say that we would drop everything and work overtime to get this is shape by Sept. 20, Stephenson remarked. He said we would oblige but like the mayor's memo indicates, we wouldn't be able to drop everything to get this done. Approval of the final plat next work wasn't likely, he added, given the number of issues that still need to be addressed at Poulsbo Place. They still have a lot of work to do before we can go ahead and give final plat approval, Stephenson said, noting that the engineer's department had a list two pages long. There's still a lot of paperwork and, physically, work needs to be done on the site. In his best estimate, the engineer said it was possible for the developers to attain a final plat in two to three weeks. It all comes down to code enforcement - if we don't do it nobody will, Stephenson said. I'm not sitting on it I'm just addressing what needs to be addressed. Councilman Regis said his comments were made in the interest of moving the project along toward completion. I met with the mayor Monday and told her there were some discrepancies in her memo. I didn't commit anyone to overtime, Regis commented. The city, he added, issued permits for the project months ago and should have been completed by now. I don't understand what the (staff) has been doing. With the window quickly closing, councilman Regis said he felt the city should show its support of Poulsbo Place. This is like in any good race you've got to the spurs on. It was obvious to me that we had to go for it on Sept. 20, he explained, noting that the personality conflict between the city engineer and the developers was holding the process up. There's no need for this. As for the memo, Regis stated, I'm the lightning rod and everyone else gets to smell the ozone. "

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