County sued over George’s Corner

KINGSTON — If Kitsap County wants to create a commercial development boundary around George’s Corner, it’s apparently in for a fight.

Shortly after the Kitsap County Commissioners’ approved the boundary last October, two land-planning watchdog groups filed an appeal of the decision to the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board.

Kitsap Citizens for Responsible Planning and 1,000 Friends of Washington filed the appeal Dec. 28, 2004, claiming that the county’s decision was not compliant with the Growth Management Act (GMA) and should be remanded to the county.

The designation of a Limited Area of More Intense Rural Development (LAMIRD) boundary is only supposed include land developed in an area before July 1, 1990. However, after two years of working on the boundary designation with residents and property owners in the area, the county included developed property from both before and after 1990, plus an additional 6 acres on the northwest corner of the intersection.

The Kitsap Planning Commission and the Board of County Commissioners found the post-1990 developments were appropriate to include because they serve the area’s rural community, according to the Kitsap County ordinance that was adopted in October 2004. The ordinance also states those developments and the 6-acre property will help support the county’s “forecasted need” for commercial property through 2017.

The citizens group and 1,000 Friends claim that the LAMIRD designation does not have a logical outer boundary, includes land that was not developed prior to 1990 and does not minimize the LAMIRD and prevent future sprawl.

The group also claims Kitsap County was required to adopt “reasonable measures” by Dec. 1 2004, but failed to do so and is out of compliance with the GMA.

The 1,000 Friends of Washington, a statewide public interest group that works to limit development in rural areas, has been keeping its eye on the George’s Corner development.

Friends legal director John Zilvay said the LAMIRD is a “special creature’ of the GMA and the county didn’t follow state mandated limitations and criteria when developing the boundary.

“The result of not following the criteria is sprawl,” Zilvay said. “Anything that was not there in 1990 can’t be in the LAMIRD and be compliant with the GMA.”

The two groups want the county to redraw the boundaries to include only developed land in 1990, he said.

Kitsap Citizens for Responsible Planning treasurer Tom Donnelly said his group is concerned with what sort of example this type of decision sets for other parts of the county.

“It’s not the biggest deal in the world but if the county can do it at George’s Corner, they can (do it) anywhere in the county,” he said, noting that this sort of action could contribute to the disappearance of rural areas within the county.

Despite the claims, Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney’s office Chief Civil Deputy Shelley Kneip said the county intends to defend its decision.

“I think it’s in compliance of the GMA, in provision with the LAMIRD,” she said.

A meeting has been set for the end of the month with the hearings board to go over all the issues. There will be a hearing May 2. The board is expected to issue a decision June 28.

If the hearings board finds fault with the county, the board will most likely remand the county to correct the problem or the county will appeal the decision, Kneip said.

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