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Poulsbo City Council approves controversial Gaines annexation

Craig Salt holds his dog Trina in front of the farm house that been in his family for generations and is part of the Gaines annexation area. - Brad Camp/For the Herald
Craig Salt holds his dog Trina in front of the farm house that been in his family for generations and is part of the Gaines annexation area.
— image credit: Brad Camp/For the Herald

POULSBO — The Poulsbo City Council unanimously approved the annexation of nearly 44 acres between Liberty Road and Marelaine Lane on Wednesday night, after a public hearing.

The proposed Gaines annexation had been hotly contested for nearly a decade. It was put on hold by the council in April 2008 before reappearing on the agenda at Wednesday night’s City Council meeting.

Sixteen people, both inside and outside of the annexation area, spoke to a packed house Wednesday night. The Gaines annexation area has been within Poulsbo’s Urban Growth Area — the area marked for eventual annexation and development — for nearly 10 years.

June Hensley was opposed to development. As a soon-to-be Poulsbo resident, her concerns were put to rest because she’ll now have a say in the process.

“I just wanted development done well,” Hensley said.

Other attendees at the public hearing agreed with her.

Self-labeled as “the developer,” John Johnson, a resident within the Gaines annexation area, said he wants to give the community the future vision for development the neighborhood wants.

Bob Hawkinson, who also is affected by the annexation, hopes the area will be developed by everyone in the neighborhood, he said.

“This is going to be a neighborhood plan, everybody is going to participate,” Hawkinson said.

Working with people he views as having reasonable views toward development swayed Bob Bergum’s nay to a yea.

When the city paused the annexation in 2008 to educate the community about the ins and outs of annexation, it gave some of those involved a new perspective.

“We are for annexation now, last year was a growth time for us to learn about what it all means,” Hensley said.

Even some people who were outside the annexation area became educated.

“As you can see, the citizens have come up and forward knowing a little bit more about (annexation),” Poulsbo resident Steven Johnson, an observer who is not affected by the annexation, said.

Craig Salt is one of the residents being unwillingly annexed, his family roots run deep at the turn-of-the-century farm house he calls home. He was not in attendance for the hearing because he said he just doesn’t have the energy to fight anymore.

“We just have a little bit of different perspective on how to do things I think,” Hawkinson said about his cousin, Salt.

The Gaines annexation was more than just an item on the City Council’s agenda — for some, it was an emotional battle, as well.

“It’s an emotional roller coster,” Clair Bourgeois said.

Sharon Hagey agreed. For she and her husband, the last couple years have been emotionally exhausting. By Wednesday, they were ready for a decision.

Only two speakers were against the annexation. Molly Lee, said Poulsbo should focus on taking care of the current needs of the city.

Jan Wold, also opposed, focused on the effects more development would have on Johnson Creek, which runs through the back section of the Gaines annexation area.

City Council members discussed whether the city would stand to gain or lose anything with the annexation.

City Councilman Jim Henry said he paid a lot of attention to the people who changed their minds about the annexation.

“I didn’t hear anyone say they were coerced; there were no crosses burned on their property,” Henry said.

The approval brings with it another process.

Poulsbo City Clerk Jill Boltz said the annexation will go into effect five days after the ordinance is published.

The city has 30 days to complete a census of the annexation area. The city will begin the census before publishing the ordinance to allow more time to survey the area.

The effective date, where the current residents and property owners in the Gaines annexation become residents of Poulsbo, has not been decided.

Boltz is hopeful the annexed home owners will become full-fledged residents by the end of the month.

“I’ve never seen a more painstaking annexation,” Councilman Ed Stern said.

Please contact Boltz with questions, concerns or information regarding the Gaines annexation at (360) 779-3901.

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