UGA revisions: Living on a rural-urban fault line

Bill Simmons has lived on his 6.5-acre South Kitsap property for 35 years and wants the area to retain its rural character.  - Tim Kelly/Staff photo
Bill Simmons has lived on his 6.5-acre South Kitsap property for 35 years and wants the area to retain its rural character.
— image credit: Tim Kelly/Staff photo

Scaling back the Urban Growth Areas within Kitsap County is a complicated task, but for a group of neighbors in a rural spot south of Port Orchard, it’s a simple issue.

“We don’t want a city built around us out here,” says Bill Simmons, who lives on 6.5 acres off SE Baker Road.

Regardless of shifting UGAs and future expansion of city limits, some change is probably inevitable in the woodsy enclave where Simmons and his neighbors live near Emelia Lake, west of Phillips Road.

The area has been a fault line for years in the wrangling over UGA boundaries and development in general in South Kitsap, but an 18-acre site adjacent to Simmons’ property and Phillips Road has been approved for building 125 homes.

The investor who owns the land, Fred Depee, said the outcome of the county’s revision of UGAs won’t affect his planned Ridgeline development. But until the housing market improves, there won’t be any construction.

A ruling in September by the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board directed the county to reduce the size of Urban Growth Areas, because they encompassed more land than necessary to accommodate future population growth.

At a hearing the county commissioners held Monday night, about 50 people turned out and many of them spoke about the four resizing alternatives presented for each UGA.

Simmons, a 68-year-old diesel mechanic who has a workshop on his property, and one of his neighbors, Loretta Anderson, spoke in favor of Alternative 1 for Port Orchard/South Kitsap because it would remove their area from the UGA.

And even though that wouldn’t prevent Depee’s development from coming in, they still don’t want to be part of a UGA that may eventually be annexed into the city. Simmons said they want to maintain the rural character of their community.

“We’ve been opposed to this from the very beginning, and all our words have fallen on deaf ears,” Simmons said Tuesday. “What we’re trying to get across to the county commissioners, is they don’t just work for the developers and for the real estate people.

“They work for all the people who live on the land in Kitsap County.”

The timeline for the UGA remand calls for a draft of the county’s comprehensive plan, maps of the preferred UGA alternatives and environmental impact assessments to be done in May.

The commissioners’ adoption of a final plan is supposed to be done in August.

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