White Horse trail plans get reined in

KINGSTON — No additional division or grading permits for White Horse will be approved by Kitsap County until the thicket of conditions for the housing/golf development’s regional trail are mapped out and established.

The county’s Department of Community Development, Public Works and Facilities, Parks and Recreation staffs are working with community members and White Horse owner Bob Screen to finalize the location, type and size of a pedestrian/non-motorized vehicle trail that is expected to help connect Indianola to the greater Kingston area.

And until trail details are finalized, no more permits for the development will be approved, DCD staff announced this week.

The issue came to the attention of the Kingston Parks, Trails and Open Space sub-committee last summer when land was being cleared for the golf course. Several KPTOS members took note that a pedestrian trail was supposed to be marked on the property before any development occurred, according to a condition in a 1996 Hearing Examiner’s decision. However, since then, there have been several variations of the condition for the trail, of which DCD is currently trying to determine what is the most current and legal decision.

Generally, the condition states an all-weather surface public pathway should be incorporated into the development and should not be adjacent to roadways. If it is, there should be a required vegetative buffer. Prior to approval of the development’s construction plans, the applicant should submit a trail plan to DCD that meets the condition’s objectives.

After KPTOS discovered last fall that no specifications had been established for the trail, discussions between interested parties started and citizens and county officials from DCD, Public Works and Facilities, Parks and Recreation met in February. County Commissioner Chris Endresen then instructed DCD to finalize a plan in 30 days.

However, given the amount of paperwork and decisions that have been made for the overall development, finalizing the specifications has taken longer than expected.

“We had to pour over what is literally eight years of approvals,” said DCD manager of land use and environmental review Eric Baker.

DCD is trying to determine four things — the location of the trail, what surface material will be used for the path, how wide it will be and a timeline for construction.

“This is very important to (Endresen) and very important to staff,” Baker said. “It has been on top of my pile for the past two weeks. We will get it done as rapidly as possible. We hope within the next few weeks to have answers to those four questions.”

On the current White Horse schematics, the trail starts at NE Kitsap Street, off Indianola Road, and heads directly north through the middle of the development. It empties into the Heritage Park property rather than Arborwood, further from Kingston than what trail supporters wanted. According to White Horse plans, the trail is part of Phase 2 of the development, which has yet to be started.

“We’re kind of developing the property in a logical sequence,” Screen said in April. “We’re not to the area where the trail is going to be yet.”

Currently, properties for Phase 1, which is the northeastern-most corner of the 450-acre parcel, are being developed. Roads have been paved, homes are popping up and the golf course is being created.

The KPTOS committee wants to see the established trail provide the best non-motorized connection between Kingston and Indianola, said member Carolina Veenstra, who noted that it is important the trail is developed at the same time as the area, not as an afterthought.

“This trail could be a model for the whole county,” she said. “It’s going into an area that is large, and once it’s developed, it’s lost forever.”

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