Impasse ends UGA back at Planning Commission

"POULSBO - Poulsbo City Council backed its advisory planning commission last Wednesday night, ending an untimely pause in the Urban Growth Area process which had been going on for the last month. After running into a stalemate with the Kitsap County Planning Commission during what was to be a city-run joint planning process, the local group received authority to take the reins on the proposal and continue its work to develop an Urban Growth Area for Poulsbo. Telling the council that they saw no way around the impasse reached with the county, members of Poulsbo Planning Commission asked for approval to continue with the city's ideal UGA. The Poulsbo Planning Commission also presented city council a summary of issues that lead to the December impasse. The Urban Growth Area Status Report listed three overriding issues that needed to be resolved, including: Whose plan is it? Who should be responsible for guiding growth and development in the UGA? And what is the next step for the city? In a section called the Changing Seasons, the city planning commission detailed county's altering attitude concerning Poulsbo's Urban Growth Area proposal. A chief sticking point, according to the presentation, was the county planning commission's view on a large refugia area that encompasses the northeast portion of Poulsbo. While the county initially agreed that the land, which cannot support urban style growth due to its environmentally sensitive nature, should be removed from the proposed UGA, the group later changed its position. Despite the negative feelings between the two advisory groups, city planner Glenn Gross said he felt last week's session was a positive one and something Poulsbo could definitely build on. The planning commission spoke with us and told us about why they're frustrated with the county, Gross said last week, noting that the city commission felt that it could do a better job on the UGA without interference from Kitsap County. It was a very good meeting. In fact, I'd say it's one of the better meetings we've ever had on this subject. Mayor Donna Jean Bruce agreed. I thought it was a positive meeting all the way around, she said, explaining that the planning commission will continue with the plan and will bring it forward to city council for approval. The plan will then go to Kitsap County for review and potentially final acceptance. If the county balks, Poulsbo may appeal the decision. Bruce said she expected that it wouldn't take the city planning commission long to come up with a recommendation on the UGA, adding, The group was pretty close to having a completed plan when the impasse was declared. "

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