New Poulsbo building will have to underground its power line

POULSBO — A dispute between neighbors over access to electricity compelled the city to allow a power line to be extended over Front Street.

But Blue Bay Holdings, which redeveloped the site formerly occupied by Voodiez Dining & Cheer, ran into another snag: Puget Sound Electric “doesn’t prefer that alternative,” Planning Director Barry Berezowski said in an earlier interview.

The result: A trench will be dug on Front Street to Jensen Way to a transformer near the old city hall. Undergrounding the power line is a more costly alternative, and it delays when the new building can be occupied because the city won’t do a final inspection until its connected to electricity.

Puget Sound Energy spokesman Ray Lane said the utility prefers electricity distribution lines be underground for reasons of “safety, maintenance, construction, and aesthetics.” Much of the work will be done after hours to minimize impacts on downtown commerce.

The project “means nighttime work,” Lane said. “It’s more expensive, more expensive for the developer.”

The work will be done for Puget Sound Energy by Potelco, a Sumner-based company specializing in engineering, design, construction and maintenance related to transmission and distribution power lines. Lane did not know the costs of the project.

Blue Bay Holdings — one of its partners is Jim Cecil, owner of Boomer’s Pet Boutique — bought the Voodiez property at 18932 Front St. in June 2012 and redeveloped the site, building a new two-story building with rooftop patio. Boomer’s will be one of the retail tenants.

The project ran into some snags when Voodiez was torn down, some of them related to a surveying anomaly called a “hiatus.”

When the original building was built in 1918, surveying methods were not as sophisticated as today’s. Over the years, as the property and neighboring parcels were resurveyed using more accurate methods, a result was a postage-stamp piece of land outside Blue Bay’s and Sluys’ property lines. According to the legal descriptions, the postage stamp didn’t belong to Blue Bay or the Sluys family.

Ownership of a hiatus is sometimes decided by adverse possession — who openly used the property for at least 10 years. Here’s why it’s important in this story; the following is gleaned from court documents and interviews with involved parties:

When Voodiez was demolished, the developer took down the pole to which the building’s power line was connected. The pole was located in the parking lot behind the building; the parking lot is owned by the Sluys family.

As the new building neared completion, Blue Bay sought to erect a new pole but the Sluys family declined, saying it may someday build condominiums with underground parking on the site at an undetermined future date — construction that would require the pole be moved. (The Sluys family contends it offered Cecil permission to erect a new pole, on the condition he move it in the future, if needed, at his expense. Cecil could not be reached for comment on that.)

That’s where the hiatus comes in. Cecil actually tracked down the descendants of the original owner of that land before the postage stamp became a postage stamp — we’re talking more than 100 years ago — and bought it from them. The purchase price, according to Kitsap County Assessor’s online records: $2,057.

Cecil erected a pole on the hiatus, but from there the powerline would still cross over the Sluys’ parking lot, potentially interfering with any future development.

Blue Bay went to the city for help. The City Council voted to allow Blue Bay to connect to electricity via a power line over Front Street. But, as reported earlier in this story, PSE “doesn’t prefer that alternative.”

Permits for the powerline project had yet to be filed July 16.


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