Council OKs one-day closure of Sunset Street

POULSBO — One may the loneliest number in song, but it was the dominant integer in a Wednesday night decision by the city council to give tentative approval of a closure of Sunset Street.

The move came after Poulsbo Place II developer David Smith asked council to consider allowing a one-day closure of Sunset between Front Street and Jensen Way in order to complete connections to the city’s water system as opposed to three days of temporary traffic disruptions with flaggers on both ends of the street.

“It would be far less disruptive if we closed Sunset,” Smith told council members. “I believe we can complete the connections and temporary patch in one day.”

After listening to Smith’s proposal, Councilman Dale Rudolph asked what the city’s code was concerning road closures.

“I’m not sure what it says in the ordinance,” replied Public Works Director Jeff Lincoln. “However, I am in favor of reducing the duration of impacts.”

Even so, the “danger” in the approval of Smith’s request is the precedent it could set for other developers, Lincoln said.

“It should be applied equally and you’re going to run the risk of all contractors asking for it,” he explained.

Upon that word of caution, Councilman Mike Regis moved that Smith’s request be approved unless city ordinances stated otherwise.

Councilwoman Kathryn Quade added a friendly amendment, noting that the residents on Sunset be notified in advance of the closure.

In response to the motion, Lincoln reminded the council that the city has a deliberate process for doing construction with right of ways.

“I think what you are seeing here is an individual request from a developer,” he said. “If that’s the role you want to be in, you’re basically saying you don’t want staff to worry about it.”

Councilwoman Connie Lord responded that decisions of this nature are made on a case-by-case basis and don’t necessarily set a precedent.

“If we can make a decision as a body looking at it on a case-by-case basis, we are not obligated to say yes to everyone,” Lord said.

Rudolph agreed with the idea of a one-day closure but wanted to make clear why he supported the idea.

“The council is going to make decisions based on the good to the City of Poulsbo, not the developer,” he explained. “We can make the decision to make things better for citizens.”

While supporting the proposal, Rudolph questioned whether the council had to decide immediately or could wait until its next meeting.

“In the future, I would like time to read about it,” he remarked. “This is not the way I like to do business.”

Smith told the council he could wait until next week’s meeting but that he would like to complete the work next week.

When the motion came to a vote, Regis cast the first vote in favor of the closure, before McGinty, Councilman Jim Henry and Rudolph voted against it. Councilman Ed Stern and Lord tied the vote before Quade cast the deciding “aye” in favor of the proposal.

After the vote, Stern commented to a visibly surprised Smith, “Dave, behave in the future.”

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