Planning board hears subarea plan testimony

KINGSTON — As if all the parties involved in the county’s sub-area plan process weren’t surprised enough by the heat generated by recent events, the Kingston Chamber of Commerce stakeholders group threw another log on the fire Nov. 22.

During the Kitsap County Planning Commission public hearing regarding the Suquamish and Kingston sub-area plans, the stakeholders presented a small project they want to see included in Phase 2 of the Kingston UGA plan — a fully extended and developed California Street.

Currently, California Street intersects West 1st Street and heads west just before it dead-ends into woods. The group is proposing that the street be extended through the woods and be located just north of the Kingston skate park, before intersecting the Lindvog Road extension.

The idea to develop the road is nothing new, as it was a project described in the community’s 1992 urban design study.

Stakeholder member Tom Waggoner, representing the group, formally asked the planning board that the project be included in the current phase of the Kingston UGA plan. Many who testified during the public hearing also spoke in favor of the extension.

“It’s not a long road, it’s an important road,” Waggoner said.

The road would run parallel to State Route 104 and assist with traffic circulation, “so locals don’t have to tangle with ferry traffic,” he added.

As for the two sub-area plans that were before the planning commission that night, many who testified were supportive of the plans being accepted into the county’s 2005 comprehensive plan, the county’s long-term land-use planning document that is amended annually.

Those who spoke for the Suquamish plan were in favor of what it represented — primarily safety improvements to the community’s roads and preservation of green space. The Suquamish working group has spent the last year making changes to its document, developing a list of projects group members would like to see completed within the community.

However, there were several concerns, such as lack of traffic data for downtown Suquamish. Group member Gail Petranek also emphasized the importance of making the streets safer.

“There are no sidewalks for students to walk to and from school,” she said, noting that children are forced to walk in the streets.

Member Niki Quester urged the commission to accept the plan, namely the group’s recommendation to keep a 200-acre parcel owned by the county, Place of the Bear, under county ownership instead of selling it to a private property owner.

For Kingston, most in attendance favored the preferred alternative, which recommends that approximately 336 additional acres be included in the UGA.

The Kingston working group has spent the past year determining which properties, as requested by property owners, should be recommended to be included within Kingston’s Urban Growth Area boundaries to accommodate expected growth through 2025. The properties included Arborwood, a 305-acre parcel owned by Olympic Resource Management. The other parcels, mostly owned by private residents, total an additional 31 acres.

The big issue of the evening primarily came from the working group members. Those who spoke agreed that their recommendation was a “straw poll” vote and they were rushed in making their decision, thus never finalizing their recommendation.

Member Michael Kulish said several concerns the group had included the fact that the information provided from the Urban Land Capacity Analysis study was flawed, he said. There was also little consideration for what the community will look like regarding public facilities and transportation.

“We’re not just a bunch of houses,” Kulish said. “It’s unfair to expect you to make a decision on a plan that members feel is unfinished.”

Planning commission member Michael Gustavson asked the group felt there were any “disastrous flaws” in the plan.

“Our concern is if the plan is challenged, we’d have a hard time defending this,” Kulish said. “It’s not unlivable but also not as good as we could get.”

The frustration on the ULCA is typical across the county, said planning member Dean Jenniges.

“But you can (only) analyze so far,” he added.

The planning commission was expected to meet Nov. 29 to deliberate and make a recommendation to the county commissioners about the plans. The commissioners will hold their own public hearing Dec. 13 at Kingston Junior High and are expected to make a decision by the end of the year on whether to accept the plans or not. If accepted, the projects within the plans will be allowed to be implemented in 2006.

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