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Owners stump for business park

The push is on to restore the commercially developable status of the Sidney Avenue/Sedgwick Road intersection, which sits at the extreme southern edge of Port Orchard’s city limits.

Once upon a time, the intersection was slated to be the hub of a mini-community, centered around a commercial district ringed by a business park. Dozens of entrepreneurs bought up land in the area, expecting to see property values skyrocket.

Therefore, there were a lot of angry people when Kitsap County re-designated that whole area urban reserve in the 1998 County Comprehensive Plan re-write.

“Some of the people who owned property there spent millions acquiring it,” said consultant Bill Palmer.

The 25-odd property owners with land around the intersection hired Palmer to orchestrate a county comp plan amendment which would resurrect the value of their holdings. As urban reserve, the 139-acre collection of properties are impossible to profitably develop — the only things allowed under county code are single-family homes. As commercial, however, the value would be determined by market rate, which Palmer said would be very high at that intersection.

He said the proximity to State Route 16 makes Sidney/Sedgwick extremely desirable for businesses — even more so than land along South Kitsap’s famed Bethel Road corridor. Tens of thousands of motorists pass underneath the Sedgwick interchange every day, every one a potential customer.

“I think you could get some auto dealerships interested in the kind of visibility that Grey’s Chevrolet enjoys,” Palmer said, referencing the auto lot which sits overlooking the interchange.

The problem is, the land is outside Port Orchard’s Urban Growth Area (UGA). That means in order to develop the land, it would have to be re-zoned, re-designated under the county comprehensive plan and annexed into the UGA.

To date, the county has shown no interest in doing this, Palmer said.

Port Orchard resident Dick Brown, who owns five acres at the site and represents the other property owners in this endeavor, said the county essentially betrayed the landowners in that area when they re-designated the land in 1998. He said county lawmakers prior to 1998 had pushed the idea of commercial development at that site and encouraged people to invest there.

Brown said he hopes the new Republican majority in the county Board of Commissioners will make good on the original plans for Sedgwick development.

“We’ve been working on that for eight years,” he said. “It’s been one government excuse after another.”

Both Palmer and Brown have been waiting to hear the commissioners’ final decision on the long-debated Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), which was supposed to be discussed at last night’s joint city council/county commissioner study session.

The MOA outlines the future of growth outside the Port Orchard UGA, including the Sidney/Sedgwick intersection. Commissioner Chris Endresen took a stance against the MOA in July, a move which infuriated city officials. However, Democrat Endresen no longer enjoys a party majority on the board, and Brown hopes Commission Chair Jan Angel, who he called a “breath of fresh air,” will get the MOA moving forward again.

The assumption is if the planning outlined in the MOA goes forward, so will the proposed up-zoning of the Sidney/Sedgwick area.

The Port Orchard City Council signed a letter of support for the up-zone earlier this month and officials expressed enthusiasm for the idea of commercial growth in an area that adjoins city limits. If the area became part of the city’s UGA, Brown pointed out, it could annex into Port ORchard relatively easily, bringing all its potential sales tax revenue with it.

“The city of Port Orchard would like to see some business growth there,” Brown said. “And so would we.”

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