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Permits, revenues continue upswing

POULSBO — The number of total planning permits issued by the city continues to rise even as winter rains have slowed actual construction.

The October planning department monthly report showed that 154 permits had been used this year compared to 136 at the same time in 2004. Pre-applications dropped from 58 in 2004 to 39 this year, but that was offset by an increase in the number of short plat applications which leaped from two in 2004 to 23 at the end of October 2005.

“A lot of those pre-aps have become applications and permits but we’re still seeing a lot of activity,” said planning director Barry Berezowsky.

Sixteen of the 23 short plats are at Olhava and once those approved, the planning department will be able to handle more applications from that area, Berezowsky said.

The planning department also handled six additional site plan reviews this year, compared to 2004.

While Olhava is expected to cause a dramatic increase in permitting activity, most of the increases were generated in the 10th Avenue area.

Four site plan reviews and one preliminary plat were submitted as the majority of the activity focuses on additional commercial office space between Liberty and Lincoln roads.

Even though the planning department staff has done an admirable job of coping with the frenzied level of growth, Berezowsky said help should arrive in 2006 as two changes will be made to the department. A hearing examiner will hear all land use appeals and Type III permits instead of the city council and an additional building inspector will be hired as well.

“We’re never going to catch up, but it will help reduce the time between applications and permitting,” Berezowsky said.

The additional inspector will allow the city to conduct inspections five days a week, which should provide a boost for builders, he said.

“We’ve had a lot of proposals for large subdivisions, which require a lot of inspections,” he said, noting that a 100-unit subdivision requires individual inspections of each unit.

The hearing examiner may not be as visible as the additional building inspector, but the position is just as important, he said.

“Poulsbo is stepping into the 21st century and this is going to free up council to focus on policy issues,” Berezowsky said, adding that appeals heard by the council often take weeks and increase the elected group’s workload.

Having a hearing examiner is expected to not only expedite land- use decisions but reduce the city’s liability as well.

“It gets the record extremely well organized and takes the politics out of land-use decisions,” Berezowsky said.

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