Kingston UGA gets surprise go ahead

KINGSTON — Kitsap County has decided to let the little city by the sea move forward with a decision that has been 13 years in the waiting.

The Kitsap Planning Commission is expected to proceed with the final approval on the Kingston Sub-Area Plan later this year, expanding the boundaries of Kingston by an additional 277 acres.

Of the four alternatives that have been proposed in the past year, the planning commission recommended earlier this year that Kitsap County Department of Community Development staff further detail Alternative B as the proposed option for new Urban Growth Area boundaries.

This alternative includes the current UGA, North Kitsap School District property and additional county property.

But at the last public hearing on the proposed land-use option in April, the DCD announced that the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council would be releasing its projected population allocations through 2025 for Kitsap County later this year.

The current allocations are set for 2017, and Alternative B is set to accommodate an additional 3,000 people in Kingston through that year.

While the planning commission has accepted the plan as currently proposed, the UGA may have to go through some adjustments next year to allow for the new estimates and have to be readopted by the county.

If the commission had decided to wait until the 2025 population numbers came out, the final approval of the plan would have not taken place until 2004.

At the April public hearing, testimony echoed strong recommendations for the commission to hold off on the approval and to wait for the latter set of numbers to be released. But the planning commission decided to move on with the plan at their work study session May 6.

“My sense was they felt the process had gone on for so long,” said DCD planner Shannon Bauman. “So they felt they owed it to the community for there to be some closure. That’s how I read their unanimous votes.”

Bauman said if the new numbers were to change drastically, then the amendment process would not be as extensive or as long as what the current planning process, because the ground work with the steering committee has already been completed.

“They basically wanted to forward this, Alternative B — they didn’t want to put the plan on hold to wait for the allocations,” Bauman said.

The staff at DCD is now developing a formal document recommending the proposed alternative and finalizing the environmental impact statement.

After a work study session with the board of county commissioners and planning commission this summer, there will be another round of public hearings. Bauman said she expects to hear more testimony urging the

county to wait for the numbers.

Zoltan Szigethy, executive director of the Kitsap Regional Economic Development Council, testified at the public hearing that the commission should not move forward with the 2017 plan and was disappointed to hear its decision.

“My view remains the one that I voiced,” he said. “Since apparently the county is going to be getting new population figures, it would make sense to not open up the planning process. I think it is an unfortunate decision.”

Szigethy added that spending a few extra months would have been beneficial, in the context of the long time frame of this particular UGA plan.

“I do not think waiting a few months would be the wrong thing to do. In fact, I thought it was the right thing to do, especially in the context of the long-time period,” he said. “If the process had been only going on for a year, then a few months is a significant incremental increase, but we’re talking about a decade.”

Kingston resident Sonny Woodward, who also supported holding off on the decision, was disappointed with the commission as well.

“They weren’t willing to wait, especially with the amount of information they were given. They must feel their version is correct or the information they have is enough to make a decision,” Woodward said.

He said he hopes the county commissioners look closer at the plan.

“I hope the commissioners do more research and really look at it before they make a decision or just go along with the planning commission’s decision,” Woodward explained. “I think (the commission) made a disappointing decision for the overall future of Kingston when making a long term decision.”

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