County says the Finn is in

POULSBO — The Finn is in... well most of it.

Kitsap County Commissioners Monday morning unanimously agreed with the majority of recommendations from Poulsbo City Council and opted to keep Finn Hill’s northern reaches in the finalized Urban Growth Area.

In the compromise decision, the commissioners removed about 65 acres south of Finn Hill Road, including the Rude Road neighborhood, from the proposed UGA as well as a small parcel on Little Valley Road.

But after eight years of debate, public hearings, testimony, discussion and review, most residents in the immediate vicinity of Poulsbo and those living in the city limits were just happy to put the sleeping giant to bed at long last.

Possibly the happiest man in Poulsbo Monday was planning director Glenn Gross.

His department has been working tirelessly on the boundary in one form or another since the last round of UGA talks started between the city and county started. The last three years have been ones of trial and error for the two governments as staffs and respective planning commissions have tried to pound out a workable solution.

An impasse was declared by both advisory commissions earlier this year but the two groups continued to work on the plan, before they made their recommendations to the city council and county commissioners.

The accepted UGA is mixture of the two proposals, said Gross, who added with a sigh, “It’s been a long process.”

Primarily, though, the boundary represents what the council had envisioned for Poulsbo and will allow the city to retain its “small town” character. With some 65 acres out of the boundary on Finn Hill as well, that much-disputed portion of the county can remain uniquely rural.

“We thought we had provided a pretty good plan,” Gross said Monday afternoon. “I was frankly more surprised that the county took the original position they did.”

When asked how the county commissioners’ meeting went, an emphatic city councilman Ed Stern responded, “Excellent.”

“It’s resolved,” he said of the unanimous decision. “We met in the middle. That’s what politics is — it’s the art of compromise.”

Both agreed that the land within the new boundary will accommodate the 20-year growth projections set by the state Office of Financial Management in 1992. According to the county allocation numbers, Poulsbo and its immediate vicinity will have added another 8,000 residents by 2012. While the numbers have been viewed by many as inflated since the city became involved with the process in 1994, planners for Poulsbo and Kitsap County still had to work with the OFM calculations.

Due to the length of the previous process, the county will actually be getting its new OFM projections in January 2002. However, the planning of portion won’t begin immediately thereafter, Gross pointed out.

“We need to work out the details of this UGA first,” he explained.

In the coming months attorneys from the city and county will work together to iron out a final interlocal agreement which will enable the new UGA to go into effect.

“Working out the details, that’ll be the next step,” said Gross, who noted that attorneys have already discussed and come to an understanding on many of the issues involved in the final process. “We’re really happy. The big question of where growth will be... at least that’s settled.”

As for the brunt of the labor involved with the UGA, Gross credited the Poulsbo Planning Commission.

“This goes back to all the hard work that was done by the city planning commission,” Gross said, adding that much of the recognition involved with the finalized product should go to the advisory group. “In fact, this is a great day for the city planning commission.”

Stern agreed.

“This is the end of an era,” he said. “Now, we concentrate on Olympic College.”

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