Annexation Task Force wraps Little Norway discussions

POULSBO— Poulsbo’s Annexation Task Force checked off a hearty list of to-do’s for a group formed just four months ago. The force, comprised of nine Urban Growth Area citizens, one planning commissioner and two council members, has been meeting since April to discuss and determine what Little Norway’s annexation process needs to change and incorporate.

The formation of the group came on the heels of the denial of two annexation proposals in March. Council Member Dale Rudolph, who serves as committee chair, presented the group’s final findings at Wednesday night’s city council meeting. After a discussion that pushed two hours, it was decided some of the recommendations will be folded into the city’s process until the completion of the Comprehensive Plan, slated for the end of the year, while other recommendations will be further researched by the council.

Those approved include:

• A communication improvement plan which requires a community meeting within 60 days and a mail contact within 30 days of a 10 percent annexation petition being presented to the council, as well as the creation by the city of an informational annexation brochure;

• Policy assurance of zoning protection for UGA from unequal up-zoning to achieve population targets, meaning all areas of the city, newly annexed or not, will be treated fairly;

• And a Web site posting of properties proceeding toward development for public information.

Still in discussion is the idea that annexation petitioners draw up the most likely ways roads and sewers will be achieved to serve the area, a council policy to leverage petitions to maximize annexation to achieve the overall Comprehensive Plan, emphasizing undeveloped properties and the city’s role in helping to relieve increased tax burdens on annexed land.

Planning Director Barry Berezowsky said the recommendations will provide a policy framework for the staff to work toward in comprehensive planning.

While the council went ahead with the recommendations being put in place until the Comprehensive Plan is solidified, Council Member Kim Crowder said she felt the process was rushed.

“I’m not satisfied,” she said, pointing out the group just started a few months ago. “I think we’re hurrying. Hurry hurry. I think that’s been a problem in the past.”

Council Member Jeff McGinty urged the council to keep in mind those hoping to petition for annexation — especially the two groups turned down in March — in part so the council could address growth issues.

“We had the rule book set, we decided to change the rule book, now when’s the new rulebook coming out?” he said. “I just sympathize with them.”

West side resident Jan Wold said she attended each task force meeting, and felt it did a great service to the city, though she would’ve rathered it had more time to address even more subjects. Finer planning points for the west side UGA neighborhood and a look at the rate of annexation and development in the city were two topics she would’ve liked to see brought to the table.

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