Manchester residents turn out to protest three-story buildings

About 40 people showed up over the weekend with signs to send a loud and clear message to Kitsap County officials and developers — two stories is plenty.

Residents congregated in downtown Manchester on Saturday to publicly demonstrate local residents’ opinion that mixed-use buildings taller than two stories are not suitable for the rural community.

Bearing signs that said things like “What Part of Two Stories Don’t you Understand?” and “This will be replaced with a wall,” protesters were greeted with supportive drivers and just a few naysayers, said Carrilu Thompson, Man-chester resident and active participant in the Manchester Plan updates.

“The folks that were down there protesting are basically demonstrating that it’s really important for people to hear that it’s not about the redevelopment of Manchester — it’s how it’s done,” Thomspon said.

She said residents want Manchester redeveloped, but in keeping with its rural character.

“Obviously there’s going to be redevelopment in Manchester,” she said. “We just want to keep it at two stories.”

Thompson said development needs to match the character of the town and the density of the population while protecting the views of residents living on the hill.

The group had planned two demonstrations showing the effect of taller buildings in the downtown core. They brought balloons to hang at 35 feet, and brought a tarp to raise up, similar to an exercise organized by the Port Orchard City council last month. But adverse weather conditions prevented such demonstrations.

The wind blew too strongly for the balloons to properly demonstrate the height, and protesters decided not to raise the tarp to avoid a mishap with nearby power lines.

The group waved to cars and handed out fliers encouraging residents to write officials at Kitsap County.

Debate over the issue has heated up as developers apply for building permits at the same time residents work to revise the Manchester Plan.

The plan did not sufficiently restrict the number of stories on a building, and residents are working on several fronts to stop any new mixed-use buildings before the plan revision is complete.

“You can’t take a three-story building down once it goes up,” Thompson said.

The protest follows on the heels of a decision from the director of the Kitsap County Department of Community Development last week. Contrary to previous interpretations of the Manchester Plan, the director said the plan does not allow two-story buildings.

The decision for the moment is temporary, and some are expected to appeal the decision to the county’s hearing examiner.

Bill Palmer, working on a development at the corner of Main Street and Colchester Avenue, has already said he would appeal the decision, and is confident the hearing examiner will rule in his favor.

Resident met at commissioner’s chambers at Kitsap County Tuesday evening to discuss the plan, and they looked at newly drafted design standards for the plan update.

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