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Poulsbo City Council approves four-plex rezone

POULSBO — A proposal to build a four-plex that raised concerns in a single-family neighborhood was approved by the city council this week.

The Young Comprehensive Plan amendment request was first heard and denied by the city council on Dec. 5, 2002 when applicant Abe Young requested that the zoning of property at 18490 Highway 305 be changed from low-density residential to medium-density residential.

Young lives on the property, just south of Windermere Real Estate, in a 1950s era duplex and wished to build an additional four-plex on the same property. He appealed the December request denial, on the basis that he said he had additional information that he wished to share with the council.

The council granted Young an additional hearing in January, but City Attorney Jim Haney said the hearing had not been properly advertised, so the matter was again delayed until the Feb. 12 council meeting.

Reconsideration of the rezone was opposed by a handful of 10th Avenue residents who showed up to the hearing and by more than 60 others who had signed a letter that was presented to the council. Neighbors said they felt their street was already developed to its capacity and that the proposed rental units would bring a different element to the area.

“(These residents) moved to this neighborhood because it was single family, it was low density, it supported the lifestyle they wanted,” 10th Avenue resident Mary Carter told the council. “Allow us to maintain and enhance the quality of our neighborhood and keep it the desirable place it is.”

Residents were also concerned that the State Department of Transportation’s (DOT) requirement that the property be right-turn in and out only would mean more motorists would use their street, as well as Sol Vei and Baywatch as turn-arounds.

“It’s not fair and it’s not safe to impact these single family residential areas,” commented local Doris Donfried.

Young countered that since the right-turn requirement was a mandate from the DOT, his application was only complying with the law. He said he felt the four-plex would add a “soft buffer” between the single family residences and the commercial properties along 305 and would provide density infill that the city and county have been seeking. He also pointed out that the rezone had been deemed as a needed change by both city staff and the city’s planning commission.

“The city planning department recommended approval, stating that it was a mistake in 1994 that it was not zoned medium density,” Young told the council. “The property on the site is my home and it is a duplex that’s been there since the 1950s, if it were to burn down I could not rebuild it under the current zone.”

While other properties fronting Highway 305 in the same area as the Young property currently have both left and right turn ingresses and egresses, City Engineer John Stephenson said the impending 305 widening would eventually mean all similar properties would have the right-turn only requirement. Stephenson added that he felt a greater traffic impact on these residential neighborhoods was coming down the pipe when commercial businesses, which generate more traffic than a four-plex’s eight vehicle trips per day per unit, lose their left turn entrances and exits.

“So with this property, the only reason why it’s in discussion is that it represents the future of this issue, which we’re going to have to address in that neighborhood whether or not we decide to approve this rezone,” commented Councilman Jeff McGinty.

Council members were split in the decision between the recommendations of city staff and the planning commission and the valid concerns of a quiet neighborhood.

“It seems like the only person who never had a choice of neighbors was Mr. Young,” Councilman Jim Henry reminded the crowd. “They all imposed on him and it’s not fair to have the people ganging up on him. Had he done that then and with a lawyer, he would not have stopped growth but he could have slowed it considerably.”

“I was originally in favor of the rezone, I do live in that neighborhood and I am aware of the potential traffic and I was not asked to step down on this issue. There are people, there are a lot of young people, who live there, we even have a blind person who walks there all the time and this is a well-established neighborhood and it doesn’t have any more potential growth. I am kind of half on the fence but my concern has to be for the existing neighborhood,” countered Councilwoman Kathryn Quade.

The rezone was approved in a four to two decision, with Councilman Dale Rudolph recusing himself from the vote.

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