Comp plan gets final OK; are new businesses far behind?

"The final approval last week of Kitsap County's comprehensive plan was an important step toward attracting commercial development and family-wage jobs to the region.But it was only one step on a long journey.Certainly it was needed, said Warren Olson, executive director of the Kitsap County Economic Development Council. But it was just one piece in the big puzzle. There are a lot of hurdles left to clear out there.Kitsap County Commissioners on March 30 received word the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board had upheld the county's designation of Port Gamble as a rural historic town. The symbolic act was the final obstacle standing between the county and total approval of its plan for growth.The county had been out of compliance with the state's Growth Management Act since 1995. Previous attempts to adopt a comprehensive plan were rejected in 1996 and 1997. The plan, which addresses more than 70 areas of planning--from transportation, zoning ordnances, shoreline management and critical areas to forestry concerns and public information--provides a blueprint for development over the next 14 years.Without the rigid guidelines provided in the plan, commercial developers were reluctant to commit to large-scale projects in Kitsap County. Olson hopes having the state board sign off on the plan will reverse that trend.There's eight years' worth of of comercial properties in the pipeline, he said. Hopefully, some of those will start coming on line soon. We desperately need more industrial sites to show these companies.Olson said the first major commercial property to become available in the aftermath of the comprehensive plan approval will likely be the 180-acre Northwest Corporate Campus, off Old Cliton Road in Port Orchard.The timing of that project has nothing to do with the comp plan, Olson said, but it'll be interesting to see whether having a plan in place makes it easier to find tenants for that project.With the comprehensive plan in place, Olson said, the next major obstacle to development will be finding a way to finance necessary improvements to sewers and other infrastructure.County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido said full approval of the plan allows the collection of developer impact fees.She said it's a relief to be out from under the cloud of non-compliance after such a long period of time.The full text of the hearings board's decision on the comprehensive plan is available on the county's Website at"

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