Port to consider annexation petition

After numerous and often heated discussions regarding the potential annexation of the South Kitsap Industrial Area by the City of Bremerton, the Port of Bremerton’s Board of Commissioners is scheduled to vote on a resolution Tuesday that may begin that process.

“The agenda item (for April 22) is essentially consideration of a petition to commence the annexation of port lands,” said port Chief Executive Office Ken Attebery, explaining that the process to begin annexation is actually “two steps,” with this first one involving owners of 10-percent of the SKIA property.

If that process goes well, Attebery said, the next step would be a petition from owners of 75 percent of the property in question, with the final goal being a 100 percent sign-on.

“My guess would be that (Bremerton city officials) would want 100 percent interest (SKIA from property owners) in coming in,” Attebery said.

Along with officials from the port — which owns just over half of SKIA in four parcels — private owners like David Overton have expressed interest in a city like Bremerton annexing the land, which would assist the project by helping to construct the infrastructure it needs to grow.

“For me, there is an urgency,” Overton told the port commissioners last month as the Bremerton City Council was considering waiving B&O taxes for the tenants if SKIA were annexed, adding that he would prefer to partner with a city with Bremerton’s experience and track record.

“We need to be in a jurisdiction that is the most effective agency as far as permitting, and clearly that is the city of Bremerton,” he said

Board President Cheryl Kincer agreed that the port should be moving the process forward.

“SKIA is a gold mine ... (but) the clock keeps ticking, and we owe it to our people to start moving forward,” Kincer said in March, but the board ultimately agreed to wait until next week’s meeting to vote on petitioning the city for annexation.

In the four weeks that followed, the port met with the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners and Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola, who has urged the port to consider a “multi-jurisdictional” option that would have four parties — the port, the county and the cities of both Bremerton and Port Orchard — sharing the costs and benefits of developing the 3,400-acre SKIA.

In their motion preparing for next week’s vote, the commissioners set a requirement that prior to April 22 they would meet with representatives from both cities and the county, a step that Coppola pointed out was necessitated by a memorandum of understanding signed in 1998.

“Our city attorney has reviewed the previously agreed-upon (memorandum of understanding) and believes it is still legally valid and binding,” he wrote. “It specifically says that no annexations will be proposed until all parties have executed the Inter-Local Agreement (ILA), and amended their Comprehensive Plans as necessary. That has yet to occur.”

The port’s next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. at its offices at the Bremerton National Airport.

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