Keyport citizens spearhead planning process

KEYPORT — Though Keyport is often characterized as the undersea warfare center it houses, there is another side to it.

A community — one that is older than the base and struggling to find its own identity.

And members of the Keyport Improvement Club think a planning process starting next week may be just the boost they need.

“We’re trying to define what we want the town of Keyport to look like for the future,” explained Milt Meeds, secretary of the Keyport Improvement Club.

Club members are asking their neighbors to get involved in drafting the first-ever formal community plan for Keyport through the help of the Kitsap County Department of Community Development. A public meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 1 at Keyport Bible Church. The plan is to create a committee to draft a proposal for a limited area of more intensive rural development (LAMIRD) designation to the Board of County Commissioners.

Keyport was previously identified as a potential LAMIRD but not formally named. It was a request from the Keyport Improvement Club that started the project, rather than the typical county initiative.

“It’s the citizens who are moving this process,” said Keri Weaver, senior planner for Kitsap County Long-Range Planning. “I’m pleased about this because it’s really a grassroots effort. There are people involved who are interested in making some positive changes there.”

The plan is for county staff to assist the committee in forming a recommendation to commissioners by the end of 2005. Review would likely take place some time in 2006.

A LAMIRD is just one of the designations allowed through Washington’s Growth Management Act. It delineates areas of pre-1990 development from more modern areas in the same community. The purpose of a LAMIRD designation is to set a permanent boundary and planning goals for a historic area in order to prevent low-density sprawl into adjacent rural areas.

“It recognizes that these kinds of areas are an anomaly,” Weaver said. “They’re not rural and they’re not urban.”

Unlike the LAMIRD work taking place at George’s Corner in Kingston, Weaver explained that the Keyport effort is based around defining areas where growth has historically taken place rather than planning for future growth. She said once the boundaries are set, the mostly rural residential zone is not expected to develop any further, so the LAMIRD proposal will encompass things like community vision for the neighborhood and priorities for spending money that could come from Kitsap County.

“They haven’t had a community plan before so it really helps the county to have a community vision — what the community wants there,” Weaver said.

And because Keyport’s effort will be less technical than others locally, it is a viable project for a community group to undertake. Weaver explained that DCD staff will offer assistance and already-compiled statistics when needed but the primary focus will be for the group to discuss goals and objectives.

“I think for a lot of people it’s keep it like it is,” Meeds said of his personal feelings of priorities for the community. “Don’t allow any major developments or big condominium communities. Keep the small town feel and the small community.”

In LAMIRD cases like Keyport where a residential community already exists, the county commissioners may also choose to designate the area as a Rural Village. Local examples are the Suquamish and Manchester Rural Villages. A subarea plan addressing infrastructure and other future needs of the community would be created if Keyport were named a Rural Village LAMIRD. Weaver said it appears Keyport would qualify for this designation because it is primarily built out, however, the final decision rests with the commissioners.

Tuesday’s community meeting will include information on the planning process, background and information on current boundaries and future goals. Members of the Keyport Improvement Club will choose the members of the committee who will continue to meet, however, community involvement will be a large process of the entire process.

Meeds added that potential committee participants need not be members of the improvement club. Interested people should be from the Keyport area but the first step of work on a LAMIRD is defining its permanent outer boundary so he said it is unsure the exact areas that will be affected.

“But we’re pretty much talking about everything thing on that side of the bridge,” he said.

Subcommittees may be established depending on community involvement and specific study items.

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