Opinion

Redevelop Viking Avenue, not forested wetland | Editorial

The neighborhood proposed by Edward Rose & Sons, a development and property management firm based in Farmington Hills, Mich., is pretty. But it’s not right for State Route 305 and Bond Road.

The site is zoned medium-density residential, or five to 10 dwelling units per acre. The site is 57 acres; that’s a maximum of 570 dwelling units. But Edward Rose proposes 540 moderate-income family apartments and 160 moderate-income senior and senior-care apartments, as well as 10,500 square feet of commercial development. The new neighborhood would boost Poulsbo’s population by 1,200 to 1,300 residents, a roughly 15 percent increase.

The Edward Rose proposal is too intense for that area and for the environment.

Currently, the acreage is forested in alder, cedar, dogwood, fir, hemlock, holly, maple, Pacific willow, and pine. Dogfish Creek, a salmon-bearing stream, flows here. There are two other streams and a significant wetland here, and the acreage floods seasonally. The acreage is habitat for salmon, songbirds, crows, deer, rabbits and squirrels.

Plans call for buffers and setbacks to protect the streams and wetland, as well as infiltration areas and pervious surfaces so surface water can filter before it reaches other waters, including Liberty Bay.

But some 39 percent of the overall acreage would be covered with buildings, paving and impervious surfaces. An engineering report states that increased surface water runoff could carry pollutants and impact water quality within the wetlands. It says mitigation measures would minimize that pollution, but it doesn’t say it would eliminate it. The report states that impervious surfaces would affect groundwater recharge of the wetland, which means less water in the wetland and in Dogfish Creek. In addition, an access road would be developed through a wetland adjacent to Bond Road.

Traffic analyses forecast that the project will generate 420 new morning peak-hour car trips at SR 305 and Bond, 436 new afternoon peak-hour car trips, and 4,696 daily trips at buildout in 2016. Level of service at nine area intersections, including two to be developed, are graded mostly C, D, and F, with delays of 25.8 to 50.9 seconds per car. Two intersections get B’s; one of them, the new site access at Vetter Road and SR 305. But the new site access on Bond Road gets an F, with delays of 98.2 to 153.3 seconds per car.

This acreage consists of four tax parcels owned by two sets of owners. To the east, in a similar-size area between the project boundary and Big Valley Road, there are seven homes. We encourage the two sets of owners to come up with a development that is less intense and lays lighter on the land.

A scaled-down version of the Edward Rose & Sons development would be suitable for Viking Avenue south of Lindvig Way. Three large commercial owners — the owners of Courtesy Ford, James Lumber and Poulsbo RV — have been working together to determine how to best revitalize the once vibrant thoroughfare. The thoroughfare generated only $296,860 in sales tax revenue for the city in 2010, lagging behind other years, a reflection of the absence of Poulsbo RV and all dealerships save Courtesy Ford.

Viking Way has already been developed and commercialized, the infrastructure is already in place, the city has invested millions in improvements, it’s a gateway to the city and a link to Silverdale and other points south. The city is inviting requests for proposals for a public trail near Liberty Bay, west of Front Street, from American Legion Park north to the site of Liberty Bay Auto adjacent to Poulsbo’s Fish Park. This would provide a pedestrian link between Viking Way and downtown.

In an earlier Herald story, Paul Mott, director of site acquisitions for Edward Rose, said of the 305/Bond proposal: “We’re trying to make a real active area there where people are encouraged to get out and walk around and intermix with each other. It becomes more of a walkable community, more in line with some of the sustainable development that people are turning to these days.”

That sounds exactly like what is needed on Viking Avenue, with its huge vacant expanse of asphalt and concrete, waiting for new life. It would fit the city’s Comprehensive Plan, which calls for residential development that “complements the built environment and the city’s neighborhoods, while we change and grow,” “mixed-use to encourage proximity and diversity in living and working options and decrease transportation challenges, and “a mix of commercial land uses that serve the needs of the city residents, businesses and visitors, while providing an attractive commercial setting.

The city should steer private investment in that direction, through zoning and incentives and other means within its authority.

— EARLIER STORIES: April 19 North Kitsap Herald, Jan. 20 North Kitsap Herald

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