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Keyport planning draws a packed house

KEYPORT — Though she doesn’t oppose community planning, Keyport resident Marge Dick had one thing to say about anything that could change her town.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” she commented.

Such was the sentiment of a standing-room only crowd that packed the Keyport Bible Church community room for a Feb. 1 meeting facilitated by the Keyport Improvement Club. The event was a chance for club members to gauge the community’s reaction to the idea of drafting Keyport’s first-ever community vision. While there are still some questions to be asked, improvement club president Shirl Golden said she was impressed by the number of neighbors who turned out.

“I’m so pleased,” Golden said after the meeting. “It’s wonderful to see this many people interested and I loved the questions.”

Last month, the Keyport Improvement Club voted to support a plan to create a limited area of more intensive rural development (LAMIRD) designation proposal for Keyport to be presented to the Board of County Commissioners. A committee of community members will draft the document and county staff will assist. Commissioner review would likely take place some time in 2006.

Keyport Improvement Club secretary Milt Meeds explained that the club initiated talks with the county about a potential LAMIRD designation last year. The motivation was several issues and complaints that had been brought up with the club, to which officers had no answer. Meeds said issues included owners of large lots who would like to subdivide but zoning does not permit it; the sewer system in town not reaching all of Keyport; and natural habitat and water view preservation.

“There were also concerns about how do we want to prevent, or do we want to prevent, if someone comes in and wants to flatten the whole place and build a condominium park?” Meeds told the group.

A LAMRID is a land designation under the state Growth Management Act. It recognizes historical developments and sets a permanent boundary and planning goals to prevent low-density sprawl into adjacent rural areas. 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. Suquamish and Manchester are both Rural Villages.

Another purpose for completing a community plan like the LAMIRD designation would be to get on the radar for county money. Keri Weaver, senior planner for Kitsap County Long-Range Planning explained that having a plan in place for the future of Keyport would allow Kitsap County Public Works to know what kinds of capital projects and maintenance to perform there.

“We’ve heard over and over from public works that they need to have the community plans on that level,” Weaver explained. “Then, when the money comes in, you do have a shot at getting your fair share.”

But Weaver cautioned the group that if things like short-platting parcels and adding sewer capacity or more development were the impetus for the committee, they may not be able to achieve their goals. The LAMIRD in question concerns community visions, not growth, in an area.

“Since the purpose of the LAMIRD is to pretty much preserve the zoning, it would be detrimental to entertain some zoning changes,” Weaver commented. “There’s a fairly narrow range of zoning because this is meant for rural preservation.”

But Golden, who has lived in Keyport about 15 years, said that’s exactly what the Keyport Improvement Club envisioned when they voted to start the process. She said she has stayed in Keyport because of its small town feel and when asked what she wanted to see change in town, she was nonplussed.

“Nothing, that’s why we need this vision statement,” she explained. “That’s why we need this Rural Village, because it fits.”

Dick, who has lived in Keyport for more than 50 years, said she was still waiting to see how the process turns out. She commented she’d like to see sewer services extended farther out onto the peninsula and she didn’t see anything wrong with letting large properties be subdivided within reason. But she added that she’d only support the LAMIRD if it kept Keyport the same as it’s been since the day she moved there — a small town.

“You don’t go through Keyport to get anywhere, you come here because you want to be here. It’s different,” Dick explained.

The first meeting of the Keyport LAMIRD committee is expected to take place Feb. 22.

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