Poulsbo: Talking about that annexation

POULSBO — The prospect of seeing his family’s 130-year-old farmhouse get annexed into Poulsbo has Craig Salt feeling defeated.

“The core thing about this is that my great-grandparents and this farm were one of the first farms on this side of Liberty Bay,” Salt said.

The city is hosting a public hearing to discuss the Gaines annexation, the boundaries for which envelop Salt’s property, at 7:15 p.m., Wednesday, May 5 and is one of the final steps in the annexation process.

The proposed Gaines annexation, which involves 43.78 acres between Liberty Road and Marelaine Lane, was put on “pause” in April 2008, so the city could create a comprehensive plan for its outlying urban growth area.

The council will consider the annexation at the May 5 meeting.

Property owners who encourage the annexation do so for various reasons. Some residents are waiting to join into the city’s water after their private systems have became contaminated. Clair Bourgeois was on the fence about the annexation, but after her shared well was deemed undrinkable causing her to spend countless dollars on bottled drinking water, she is for it.

“When you’re outside in the county, sitting in (Urban Growth Area), you’re kind of in purgatory,” Erickson said.

Living outside Poulsbo’s city limits has raised a lot of issues for property owner Bob Hawkinson. He said it’s hard having a say in what the city does and develops around you, when you’re not part of the city.

“We’re working together so that local people can control the development,” Hawkinson said. “We get regulation without representation and I don’t think that’s fair and my neighbors don’t think that’s fair either.”

If the annexation becomes a reality, Salt plans to pack up the farmhouse and leave his family history behind.

When the talk of annexation started about nine years ago, Salt and his mother, Beverly Salt, lived on the almost four-acre property with their sheep, goats, chicken, rabbits and peacocks.

“I have one peacock left. The writing was kind of on the wall,” Salt said, explaining why he didn’t purchase more animals when his died. Continuing to keep and raise animals with a possible annexation into Poulsbo seemed a futile effort, as there would be limitations or requirements on the animals he could keep, he said.

His mother has since died. She died in the family’s farmhouse in which she was raised and where Salt, the lone occupant, currently lives. He was one of several people who inherited the land. After being a ferry boatman for 35 years, Salt retired to help his mother on the farm.

But there’s more to it than family history.

Being an “outsider,” didn’t stop Salt from being involved in Poulsbo politics. He’s not happy with the way he’s seen the city change since he was a child.

“That’s why they changed the name of Poulsbo to Viking City because that’s what they’re into now — raping, pillaging and plundering, it’s not Little Norway anymore,” Salt said.

With 42.42 acres of owned property being annexed, Salt is aware that development is coming to the land he calls home.

“Some brand new developer that comes into town has all the rights that the city can bestow on them and nobody has asked me what I wanted,” Salt said.

Mayor Becky Erickson became an unwilling resident of Poulsbo during the Noll annexation. She has fought hard to make future annexations a less jarring experience.

“I’ve been through it, I know it’s hell,” Erickson said. “I believe in reformation, not revolution. Which is, if you have a problem with the local government, you get off your rear end and do something about it.”

The city devised an annexation task force to oversee educating those coming into the city under annexation. Creating an annexation brochure, establishing public meetings and allowing the property owners access to people who can answer their questions are just some of the ways the city sought to make annexation easier, Erickson said.

“People like this gentleman (Salt), they do have a way to handle these things,” Erickson said. “If things are wrong, you fight and he shouldn’t give up.”

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