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"Poulsbo Place, city seek middle ground"
"POULSBO - It's been nearly seven months since city council ended a lengthy discussion process and granted Security Properties, Inc. approval to begin construction on the first phase of Poulsbo Place. From the word go houses began springing out of the dirt seemingly overnight in the brand new neighborhood along Jensen Way. As Poulsbo Place progressed, the public hadn't heard the word stop in relation to the 164-home project. Poulsbo Place contractor Larry Ward, on the other hand, said this week he has heard it much too often. Ward approached the city Public Works committee Wednesday, explaining that despite his continued efforts to comply with Poulsbo's stringent building codes, the project as a whole was still stumbling on some of the hurdles. I think we have made every effort to comply with the city, he told the group. I'd like to have some type of mechanism to avoid these issues. Problems have arisen in the new neighborhood because crews from Olympic Homes and Seton Construction opted to work during the winter months, said City Engineer John Stephenson. The rub is that wet weather doesn't mix well with the copious amounts of dirt that often accompany construction sites and results in mud and dirty runoff. While developers have attempted to take care of the matter, they haven't addressed all concerns in a timely manner, according to the engineer. As a result, a final inspection permit for a home was held up by the city on Tuesday. While it marked only the second time such a delay had occurred since the project began, it was enough to catch the eye of SPI representative Rick Freeman. I think we're pretty good citizens - I'm not saying we're perfect, but if we're making the effort what's the point in shutting us down? Ward asked. It's punishment. Stephenson, however, disagreed and pointed out that he was simply following state laws concerning runoff and city policies on erosion control. Silt fences and other measures must be present before the city building inspector can sign off on a house, he explained. But SPI has had some problems keeping Seton Construction, its prime contractor on the project, from upholding the runoff standards. The city has as well. John (Stephenson) was having incredible problems making Seton comply, Ward said, noting that intercession by Freeman had been helpful in this regard. Nonetheless, the engineer said he had to resort to threats to get results from the construction company. This raised some eyebrows around the table. We've had to issue some directives to them to keep their earthwork under control, he said later, adding that the threats involved pertained to stop work orders. Some construction companies are more responsive about erosion control. It's kind of like getting your kids to clean their rooms. On projects like these I spend more time on erosion control and clean water than I do on anything else. Even with the law backing the city's position, Freeman and Ward said they felt Poulsbo Place was being singled out for violations. We just want to be treated like everyone else, Ward said, producing pictures taken Tuesday of a development on Odin Court, which showed a lack of runoff control. Work at that site, he added, was allowed to continue unhindered. We don't want to point any fingers here, Ward stated. You already have, councilman Jim Henry said. You already have. Despite the airing of grievances, the group agreed to take a closer look at runoff issues at Poulsbo Place and work together to solve future problems that might arise. The mutual feeling was a long cry from where the two groups were just a few short months ago. Our working relationship is much more harmonious, Ward remarked. "