SKIA decision in county's hands

The South Kitsap Industrial Area Plan is on to the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners for final approval although, inevitably, some questions still remain.

The plan has been with the county planning commission since last July and generated some serious debate as it worked its way through several revisions and updates. The 3,400 acre planning area would make SKIA one of the largest — if not the largest — industrial park in Kitsap County. There was significant discussion over the possible impact such a large business-only zone would have on other parts of the county.

North Kitsap Planning Commissioner Thomas Nevins refused to support the plan at any stage because he felt it clustered too much future industrial growth in South Kitsap, leaving Central and North Kitsap out in the cold.

Other commissioners who originally questioned the size and scope of the project ended up supporting it in the end, but that didn’t keep last-minute concerns from being aired at last week’s planning commission meeting.

“I want to know how you’re going to shorten the drive between the population center and the employment center,” said South Kitsap Planning Commissioner Mike Gustavson.

SKIA’s location — largely surrounding Bremerton National Airport along State Route 3 near Sunnyslope — is not very convenient, as many have pointed out. SR 3 is due for some widening in the future — it’s part of the state Department of Transportation’s long-term transportation projects plan. However, as Gustavson pointed out, because nearby McCormick Woods is slated for expansion into the nearly stand-alone community of McCormick Village, future SKIA workers may not be coming up SR 3.

The main connector between McCormick Woods and SKIA will likely be Old Clifton Road/Sunnyslope Road — a main arterial for that area, but not a throughway capable of handling heavy traffic. The two roads are narrow and cut a winding path through largely rural neighborhoods. In addition, the Sunnyslope/SR 3 intersection is a collision hot spot that seems to attract serious and often fatal car wrecks.

South Kitsap Planning Commissioner Monty Mahan said the Old Clifton Road corridor is also mentioned in the state transportation plan. He didn’t mention possible revisions at the Sunnyslope/SR 3 intersection, but said the two roads would be widened “substantially.”

Nevins, because of his earlier opposition to the plan, recused himself from the final vote. However, he said he didn’t like one provision of the final document dealing with on-site bio-filtration systems.

The plan states natural filters damaged or removed by development may be replaced with equally effective manmade systems. Nevins, however, said that trade-off made assumptions it shouldn’t about the quality of artificial bio-filtration.

“I don’t believe anyone has ever been able to replace naturally occurring bio-filtration,” he said.

The planning commission will have one more formal vote on the plan — “findings of fact” on the proposal will need to be adopted before the proposal can move forward to the county commissioner level.

“It’s a very technical step,” said assistant community development director Darryl Piercy. “It creates a legal basis for their decision.”

SKIA will become part of this year’s county comprehensive plan amendment package, slated for adoption in August. Public hearings on the amendment package will begin in June.

Despite the lingering “chicken-and-egg” questions about whether it’s wise to create industrial areas on the assumption businesses will come to fill them up, the planning commissioners are largely optimistic about the future of the project.

“I think we are going to have to have some industrial land in Kitsap County to support our population and I think this is a good spot for it,” said North Kitsap Commissioner Deborah Flynn.

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