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Kitsap awaits new Apple Tree Point

KINGSTON — Ten years after the initial application for a planned unit development called Apple Tree Point, the future of when exactly the 106 homes will be constructed is up in the air — but far from forgotten.

While the approval process has been slowed by opposing residents and court cases, the vested project is still slugging its way through the county’s permitting system.

Members of the Kingston Citizens Advisory Committee heard the latest on the project Oct. 6 from Kitsap County’s Senior Planner for Environmental Review Rick Kimball and raised questions of their own.

The application for Apple Tree Point was submitted to the county in 1994, proposing that 106 single-family dwelling units be constructed on a 126-acre parcel located on Apple Tree Point Lane at the intersection of Lindvog Road and Berry Street.

At the time of the application, the county allowed a zoning density of only one dwelling unit per 2.5 acres. However, the Apple Tree project met requirements for a rural Planned Unit Development and included a provision for permanent open space that allowed one dwelling per acre.

“That’s what they applied for and (they) met the criteria at the time,” Kimball said.

Today, the highest density allowed in rural areas is one dwelling unit per 5 acres, per the Kitsap County Comprehensive Plan and state’s Growth Management Act.

Apple Tree Point went before the Kitsap County Hearing Examiner in 1995, who recommended that the number of lots be reduced from 106 to 70 but noted that if 106 lots were created, additional environmental review should be required. Even so, county staff decided that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was not needed.

This decision was appealed to the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners by both the project applicants from Apple Tree Point Partners and a group opposing the development, the Association of Rural Residents.

The commissioners decided in December 1995 to approve the entire project with 106 lots and did not require an EIS.

The project was then thrown into the courtroom for about six years by the Association of Rural Residents. The group opposed the development because members felt the plan needed the EIS and questioned the application’s vested status, Kimball explained.

The county commissioners’ decision was appealed to King County Superior Court and finally to the Washington State Supreme Court.

The state Supreme Court decided that the project had been correctly reviewed under the zoning regulations at the time and was properly vested, Kimball said. However, it remanded the environmental issues back to King County Superior Court for additional discussion.

King County judges believed that the county needed to research two issues further — the expected impact of additional traffic on Lindvog Road and the stormwater drainage, in particular the stability of the property’s steep slopes.

By this time, improvements had already been made to the Lindvog Road and State Highway 104 intersection and it was determined that any other enhancements needed as part of the project would be paid for by Apple Tree Point Partners.

Currently, the stormwater issue is the postponing the project.

King County officials said they felt the information provided did not demonstrate that additional septic tanks and a stormwater drainage system would be adequate for the site.

Apple Tree Point Partners has since hired a firm to conduct a groundwater study, with results showing that there is potential for a problem but that a redesign would solve the stormwater system quandary. The redesign would demonstrate how stormwater would be routed from the site and how slope stability would be ensured, Kimball said.

The county is awaiting the redesign, which will be reviewed to see if it meets the its stormwater standards. While the project will be developed under the 1994 zoning codes, the stormwater system has to meet current Kitsap County codes.

“Those things don’t vest,” Kimball said.

Pending the approval of the traffic and stormwater issues, the project will be then move forward.

KCAC members were primarily concerned with what they perceived to be a lack of pedestrian walkways and bike paths on the project map.

Kimball fielded suggestions and ideas about possible changes to the plan, but reminded the group that it had already been pre-approved by the county and little could be done to change specifics.

“Once it’s done, it’s done,” he said, adding that he would pass along the suggestions to the Apple Tree Point Partners. “As far as the ability to accommodate a trail along here, that is a possibility but we are limited to what we can do.”

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