McCormick Woods development plan gets thumbs down

In a surprising move Tuesday, the Kitsap County Planning Commission opted to reject the planning staff’s advice on the McCormick Woods growth plan, instead choosing to recommend the no-change option to county commissioners.

The county planners had recommended option three — which called for a combination of high-density residential and mixed-use commercial designations for the McCormick Woods urban growth area (UGA) — to the planning commission. This was also the option favored by the McCormick Land Co., which owns the property within the UGA.

At the meeting, however, the commissioners expressed concern over the amount of growth option three would draw to that area. Many felt it was unfair that McCormick Woods would be the one to effectively absorb all the growth projected in South Kitsap County for the next 15 years.

“It was a major shift in population allocation to that area without considering other possibilities,” said planning commission chairman John Ahl.

He added that he was concerned the county was ignoring the other developable areas around Port Orchard while unnecessarily focusing on a stand-alone UGA like McCormick Woods.

Ahl said he felt growth should radiate outward from population centers such as Port Orchard — not pop up as free-floating islands of dense development.

“There was nothing objectionable about the plan per se,” he said. “It was just out of sequence. There were a lot of things that were right about their plan, actually.”

Ahl said it was a combination of public testimony, which objected to the kind of growth called for in option three, and the commissioners’ own reservations about the facts laid out in the plan which primarily drove the board’s decision.

Linda Niebanck, president of McCormick Land Co., said she isn’t discouraged by the planning commission’s decision. She even said she wasn’t necessarily surprised the commission departed from the recommendation of the county staff.

Niebanck pointed out that the company has been working on its plans for the area for more than 10 years now, and minor setbacks and disappointments have become routine.

“It wasn’t as if I had a preconceived idea as to where they would go,” she said. “We just have to continue the process.”

However, that doesn’t mean McCormick Land Co. plans to give up on option three. Niebanck said she plans to address the county commissioners before they vote on the subarea plan — a vote tentatively scheduled for their next meeting Dec. 17.

Niebanck said she plans to talk to the commissioners about the plan as much as she can within the limits of the law.

“We’re certainly going to urge the county commissioners to come to a different conclusion (than the planning commissioners),” she said.

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