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Poulsbo on track for big growth explosion

POULSBO — Little Norway could go from a town of 7,000 to a city of 16,000 once it fully develops its Urban Growth Area at an average rate of five units per acre.

At least that was City Councilman Ed Stern’s projection as he addressed a group of real estate agents at Poulsbo’s Windermere Real Estate Monday morning.

“We have the potential for 9,660 people in our Urban Growth Area,” Stern told the group. “We’ve already annexed over 700 acres and are looking at annexing 120 more acres in the near future.”

That expected growth is a direct result of Poulsbo being the first city in Kitsap County to have its UGA approved, which was mandated under the state’s Growth Management Act of 1990, he said.

“Under that act, the city is expected to pick up more than its fair share of future growth,” he explained. “Seventy-five percent of the growth in the county in the next 25 years is expected to be picked up by the cities.”

County officials had originally wanted cities to absorb 82 percent of the growth before settling on the 75 percent mark, Stern said.

That expectation of growth has created numerous challenges for Poulsbo, which is why city officials are working on a proactive approach toward growth, he added.

“It is certainly the goal of the mayor and city council to keep Poulsbo, Poulsbo and growth should pay for itself,” Stern said.

One of the ways city officials are looking to maintain the city’s character is by using its comprehensive plan to provide guidance for that growth, he said, explaining: “There have only been two times since 1908 when Poulsbo has been proactive and one of those was two years ago when it designated North Viking Avenue as a growth corridor.”

Now the city’s most recent “visioning” efforts are another way city officials are taking a proactive approach toward planning, Stern said.

“When we leave downtown, which could be in 12 to 24 months, we don’t want to leave a vacuum, we want a plan to keep Poulsbo, Poulsbo,” he said, pointing out that the planning for a municipal campus is back on track.

When the city bought the Morris property near the library and public works, it did so for the sole purpose of building a municipal campus, he said. However, the property is bisected by Dogfish Creek, which made it impossible for the city to fit a new city hall and parking on the property.

“There could be two anchoring parking structures and not ugly ones, either,” Stern said. “Historically, there’s been a hotel downtown and we could reduce parking in Anderson Parkway.”

For real estate agents who will be selling the new homes and other commercial buildings in the future, Stern’s presentation was beneficial, said Poulsbo Windermere owner Cindy White.

“We had a lot of questions beforehand but he did an excellent job of answering them,” White said.

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