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Ruling means Port Orchard's urban growth area may be reduced

Kitsap County should re-evaluate and shrink the urban growth area for Port Orchard, as well as several other cities, according to a ruling from the state’s Growth Management Hearings Board.

The county overextended the areas slated for annexation into cities during an update to the comprehensive plan in 2006, according to the ruling, which is the latest in a string of appeals to the updates to the comprehensive plan.

“They justified expanding the urban growth area by assuming that all future development would be at four units per acre even though most of the zoning allows densities much greater than that,” David Bricklin, an attorney representing petitioner Kitsap Citizens for Responsible Planning, said. “If you assume that everyone is going to develop at four units per acre, you need more land (annexed into the cities).”

In reality, they should have used a higher density in their calculations, Bricklin says, which would result in a lot less land for the urban growth area.

The city of Port Orchard took a different view.

Jennifer Forbes, an attorney representing the city filed an amicus brief supporting the 2006 revisions to the comprehensive plan.

“The city has worked extensively with the county for years through the growth planning process,” she said. “From our perspective, it wasn’t done as a bright line whim. It was done as part of coordinated planning.”

The cities and county worked together to create the plan, Forbes wrote in the brief, and it’s important that they go forward with it in a consistent, cohesive manner.

“The Kitsap County 2006 Plan is consistent with cities’ comprehensive plans and the cities support the minimum densities and land capacity analysis methodology set forth in that plan,” she wrote.

But the Growth Management Hearings Board sided against the county and city of Port Orchard and in favor of the petitioners, including the Suquamish Tribe, Kitsap Citizens for Responsible Planning and Jerry Harless.

The case has been appealed up through a numbers of judicial forums, but the county and city have not yet indicated what they plan to do next.

“I hope they finally got the message,” Bricklin said. “If it hasn’t sunk in yet, I don’t know when it’s going to sink in.”

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