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City, KRCC differ on growth policy

Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola took issue with several things that happened at a Dec. 7 meeting of the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council’s executive board.

First, he said, its staff incorrectly recorded his vote regarding amendments to countywide growth policies.

“The record reflects that the motion to approve these amendments carried forth unanimously, which is not the case,” he wrote this week in a letter to KRCC Executive Director Mary McClure.

“Although I had voted for the underlying motion to release the document for public comment,” Coppola wrote, “on the specific motion regarding the commissioners’ last-minute amendments, I had abstained from that vote and would like the record to reflect that abstention.”

Additionally, Coppola noted, his vote wasn’t well-informed.

KRCC didn’t give the city’s planning directors enough time to read the amendments and comment on them before the vote, so, Coppola said, he didn’t have adequate council when making his decision.

“As a whole,” the mayor wrote, “I believe the amendments should be provided to the planning directors for review and comment prior to any approvals by the KRCC executive board.”

Moreover, Coppola added, now that he and the city council have seen the city planning director’s analysis, they’ve decided to oppose the amendments.

“The proposed change is inconsistent with existing planning requirements,” Coppola wrote, “and requires excessive commitments of funding reserves for six-year capital facilities plans to accommodate a 20-year planning area.

“The proposed changes may also be determined as not consistent with RCW35.13 regarding municipal annexation requirements,” he wrote.

The rest of the cities represented at council are split in their support.

Bremerton’s city council, for example, likes the county’s proposed revisions, said Will Maupin, the current the city council president.

“The amendments just change the wording in the planning policies to make them less directive,” he said.

They strike, for example, verbiage such as “city-led,” “intent” and “as appropriate” from the planning policies.

“I’ve been through this debate a lot of times in the past,” Maupin said, “and it’s interesting how it goes.

“Last time around,” he said, “it was Port Orchard and Bremerton that were ordering the stronger language; the county wasn’t interested in having urban growth areas be annexed.”

Now, Maupin believes, Port Orchard is just concerned that the cities are not really in control of whether urban growth areas are annexed.

But to be safe, he said, cities should just plan for the urban growth areas to be annexed.

“If some group of citizens or property owners ask to be annexed into the city,” Maupin said, “it would be a shame for the city to say, ‘Sorry, we can’t accommodate you. We haven’t planned for you to be annexed.’”

The city of Bainridge Island also supports the revisions.

“In general, the city found the revisions to be generally sound and thorough,” wrote Bainbridge Island Mayor Kirsten Hytopoulos in a letter to McClure.

Hytopoulos suggested, however, that the council also add standards for transportation facilities for urban growth areas.

Among her other suggestions, Hytopoulos said, “The city is concerned about the concept and language pertaining to Fully Contained Communities given the impacts we have seen in other communities when these types of communities have been allowed.”

The city of Poulsbo opposed the amendments.

“They spent about two hours at their council meeting last week and unanimously voted to reject this amendment,” Coppola said. “It’s my understanding that one of the other cities will oppose all of the talk about climate change and all of the ‘shalls’ in the planning policy.”

The Port of Bremerton’s commissioners, who also have a voice on the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council, haven’t yet officially discussed the issue.

“I’m sure it will come up for discussion soon,” said Chris Case, the port’s marketing and communications manager, “but it hasn’t, yet.”

Representatives from the majority of groups represented at the KRCC must vote in favor of the amendments for them to be ratified.

Voting entities at the comity include the cities of Bainbridge Island, Bremerton, Poulsbo and Port Orchard as well as the Port of Bremerton.

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