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One last step remains for SKIA

After five years of planning, brainstorming, drafting and re-drafting, the South Kitsap Industrial Area is finally ready for development.

Almost.

Although the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners last week voted unanimously to approve the SKIA plan and include it in the county’s comprehensive plan, the commissioners opted to put off passing an implementing set of regulations for the area until sometime next spring. Despite efforts to draft a plan that would please both the landowners, the county and the Port of Bremerton — whose airport and industrial land sits entirely within SKIA — the county and the port are still at odds over the port’s status as a SKIA landowner.

Kamuron Gurol, the county’s director of community development, said the port wants special status for its lands in development matters — particularly those concerning permitting.

Gurol, however, said the county believes all SKIA landowners should have exactly the same rights and privileges with regards to development.

SKIA, at 3,400 acres, will become one of the largest industrial parks/employment centers in Kitsap County if built out as planned. The port, until now, has operated as the only light industrial landholder in that area and has put a lot of planning into making its Olympic View Industrial Park both marketable and profitable. Port officials want to be able to continue master planning the port property independent of SKIA restrictions.

A possible compromise, Gurol said, is to give port lands that are already partially developed — such as its business park — their own permitting process.

Such a process could be modeled after systems already in place for other industrial parks under county jurisdiction. The details, Gurol said, will have to be ironed out sometime in the next six months — the tentative time frame for plan completion set out by the county administration.

“I’m pretty optimistic we’ll get the rest of the work on SKIA done in a reasonable time frame,” he said.

Although officials admit there are no major businesses at present time waiting in the wings for SKIA to be approved, there remains a sense of urgency. Last minute changes — such as the move to make racetracks a permitted use within the area — may reflect stakeholders’ ambitions for the area. Even though the county will say nothing official, SKIA participants may hope to use the freshly available development area to attract investors such as NASCAR — which was rumored to be eyeing a new raceway in South Kitsap.

Nevertheless, port Chief Operations Officer Ken Attebery takes a philosophical view of the situation as a whole.

“Our life goes on as usual,” he said. “That will change when the rules are put in place, but not drastically.”

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