Development plan downsized

Just a month before the drop-dead deadline for this year’s batch of changes to the Port Orchard comprehensive plan, the developing team of Roland and Roland dumped two-thirds of the proposed development parcel from its plans in order to avoid a Department of Fisheries appeal.

The Rolands originally proposed turning 50 acres of field at the corner of State Route 16 and Sedgwick Road into a retail commercial center. The land, currently zoned residential, straddles Blackjack Creek — a protected salmon stream. Although the city originally decided the Rolands’ request for a re-designation would not necessarily harm the stream, Fisheries cried foul and filed an appeal of the city’s determination.

Its two major points of appeal:

n the runoff from the acres of impervious surface the would eventually dump into the creek; and,

n the bridge the Rolands proposed using to link the two properties.

Such an appeal has never happened before in a Kitsap jurisdiction “that I know of,” said city planner Rob Wenman.

The problem, Wenman said, resides with the city. Although comprehensive plan changes have no inherent impact, the city still must consider the impact of whatever development the applicant is likely to use the changed designation to achieve.

Because Blackjack Creek is designated a natural shoreline environment, developers are highly restricted in what they can do with property nearby. The designation is one of the most restrictive that can be given to a body of water and means a whole host of construction is automatically off-limits.

“It really limits a property owner’s ability to utilize (property),” Wenman said.

One of the outright prohibited uses for such an environment is any type of bridge or road spanning the waterway in question. The Rolands’ original plan depended on a bridge over Blackjack Creek to gain access to the western portion of the parcel — all other routes would have taken heavy commercial traffic though narrow residential roads at the tail end of South Flower Street.

Wenman said the natural shoreline environment designation is rarely found in urban areas and is notoriously difficult to work around. Apparently the Rolands’ agreed because, rather than engage in a lengthy battle with Fisheries, the Rolands arranged with their developing company — Seattle-based Pacland — to simply strike the western parcels from the plan. The new proposal now only addresses the eastern 15 or so acres that front Sedgwick.

Following the change, Wenman said, Fisheries withdrew its appeal.

Neither the Rolands nor their Pacland representatives were available last week and could not comment on what effect the changes will have on their overall plans.

Wenman said thus far the city has received to formal plans from the Rolands that would outline exactly what they plan to put there. However, in an interview last month, Alex Roland talked at length about his plans to bring major retailers such as Home Depot to the site.

“We don’t want to throw up a bunch of ugly buildings,” he said. “We want something Port Orchard citizens can be proud of.”

Wenman said the Rolands are now referring to the new development as the Port Orchard Gateway Center.

The revised comp plan change request will appear before the city council Dec. 8. The planning commission has recommended approval and, from all indications, the Rolands are eager to gain city approval this year so they can start serious work on their project in 2004.

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