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North End comp plan gets final checks and balances

FAIRGROUNDS — It took three hours but everyone left relieved. Some upset, some happy, but relieved it was finally over.

The Kitsap County Board of County Commissioners held a public hearing with the Department of County Development to deliberate and decide on amendments to the 2003 County Comprehensive Plan Nov. 17.

For the North End, the Kingston Urban Growth Area, George’s Corner and Interim Rural Forest land were the top issues.

After more than a decade of meetings, proposed alternatives and public hearings, county commissioners finally approved the new boundary lines for Kingston’s urban area.

The new plan includes the current UGA boundaries, plus existing public schools, the proposed Kingston High School site and additional county property.

Two amendments to the UGA plan were also approved. The commissioners first decided to allow 337 acres of the proposed 700-acre Arborwood property to be zoned Urban Reserve. With the urban reserve designation, the property is set aside and will be considered for future inclusion of the UGA.

The property, owned by Olympic Property Group, is located south of West Kingston Road and west of South Kingston Road. Earlier in the year, OPG officials asked that the parcel be part of one of the preferred alternatives for the new UGA. Planning commissioners rejected the idea.

North Kitsap Commissioner Chris Endresen said 143 acres would be established for potential development, 104 acres would be dedicated as county green space and 57 acres would be open space and wetlands.

By establishing this designation, it’s better for the environment, the county budget and planning the site, Endresen said.

“Master planning of that site would be better for the county,” she explained.

The other amendment to the UGA was an approved population allocation. The new numbers now allow for a growth of 640 people within the UGA between 2012 and 2017.

County staff is currently working on allocations that will project populations through 2025 and hope to have those ready by early next year, said DCD manager Laura Dittmer. The Kingston UGA plan could be brought back to the table next year for further allocation study for 2025 if the commissioners decide to do so, Dittmer said.

The study on the Limited Area of More Intense Rural Development for George’s Corner on State Route 104 was deferred until the 2004 comp plan amendment cycle.

Endresen stated earlier this month that more community input was needed to help limit the growth of the commercial area.

Interim Rural Forest land designation was the final big issue for the North End. The IRF properties include 54,000 acres of long-term commercial forest land in the north and south ends of the county. The county is trying to develop programs for land owners to make their properties more economically viable.

In order to assist with this, commissioners decided to approve amended IRF language within the comp plan. Amendments included allowing property owners to develop one dwelling unit per five acres if clustered (versus the current one unit per 20 acres designation) and enforce annual monitoring of the lands to make sure the rural character is being preserved.

Groups, including the Port Gamble S’Klallam and Suquamish Tribes, have expressed a need for additional discussion on how the lands can be properly preserved. Developers, such as Olympic Property Group, which owns a portion of the IRF lands, believe the plan is good for now. While representatives from the tribe had no comment on the commissioners’ decision, OPG president Jon Rose said he was satisfied with the outcome.

“I think the commissioners adopted a balanced program that puts limits on the use of the density increases and it safeguards it to allow monitoring as a check for the program,” Rose said.

Endresen said she was urged by many to vote against the plan.

“I know it’s not the plan everyone decided on. I would have felt better if people had a chance to discuss it,” Endresen said, noting she felt the approved plan is “bookended” with some rigid language and restrictions.

The commissioners are expected to sign off on the 2003 comprehensive plan amendments Dec. 8.

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