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Regional council approves Port Orchard plan
Port Orchard’s expansive 20-year plan for its future cleared an important hurdle late last week, opening the city to an influx of grant funding.
The city’s 2008 Comprehensive Plan was certified by the Puget Sound Regional Council June 1. The document, which consists of detailed plans for the city’s future, including transportation structure, parks plans, housing, utilities and other city functions was submitted to the council in hopes of garnering approval for the plans, said James Weaver, Port Orchard’s planning director.
The PSRC works with cities, ports, tribes and government agencies in King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap Counties to develop policies and build a vision for the region’s future, Weaver explained.
Among the group’s responsibilities is dolling out a number of federally funded grants that are only available to city’s with an approved compressive plan.
“The key element is being certified, so we can receive grant money not perviously open to the city,” Weaver said.
The current plan was the first adopted by the city since ‘95, a fact that Weaver said held back the city when it came to securing grants. He said meeting the PSRC’s approval was another step in a long process of solidifying the legitimacy of that plan.
“Getting any additional certification helps,” Weaver said.
Rocky Piro, the PSRC’s growth management program manager, said by having a certified plan, it opens the city up to new avenues of grant funding, especially in the realm of transportation. He said the city’s plan complied with both the PSRC’s VISION 2040 and Transportation 2040, two long-range economic, transportation and environmental plans for the four-county region.
Port Orchard submitted its comprehensive plan to the PSRC in 2009. Port Orchard’s plan was easy to read and user friendly, Piro said. He said he was also impressed that a city the size of Port Orchard was cognizant of their responsibility toward sustainability and environmental stewardship issues.
“The city really developed ideas of sustainability that were notable, both impacting regionally and statewide,” he said.
Piro said VISION 2040 and Transportation 2040 strive to make the region a healthy environment. Port Orchard’s future includes active ways to stay healthy, with plans for bike paths and walking paths, as well as plans for environmentally sustainable infrastructure.
“Our goal is to create a healthy environment,” he said.
Weaver, who started his job with the city in 2008, said updating Port Orchard’s comprehensive plan after 13 years of waiting was no easy task. The comprehensive plan took close to a year to complete, which he said does not include various redrafts and amendments. He said it was the planning department’s prerogative to receive as much city resident input as possible before putting the plan before the city council for approval. The city sent mailers, held open houses and survey’s in an attempt to find which direction the citizens wanted the city to go.
“We went out and found what the public wanted,” he said.
Now that the PSRC has approved the plan, the city will apply for more grants. Weaver is hoping for a transportation and public works grant specifically used for the Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway and the Tremont Street widening projects.
The city will again have to apply for PSRC certification with an updated plan in 2014. But that plan won’t take as long to complete, since population growth has remained mostly stagnant since 2008.