PO City Council stalls on planning overhaul

Port Orchard has balked at being the first to ratify the new countywide planning policies proposed by the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council.

Although KRCC Director Mary McClure said the vast majority of changes to the planning document were housekeeping measures, the City Council — citing confusion over the proliferation of competing crossouts in the document — asked for more time to review the proposed changes.

This request did not sit well with McClure, who must gain the approval of all four cities and Kitsap County before the end of the year.

The deadline — and the ratification requirements — have been set by the Puget Sound Regional Council, which is giving its member counties one last opportunity to nominate urban centers before the list closes for another five years.

Both Silverdale and South Kitsap’s newly approved South Kitsap Industrial Area are eligible for this urban/employment center designation. If KRCC misses the PSRC deadline, SKIA and Silverdale will likely miss out on significant transportation funding available to PSRC-recognized “centers.”

If Port Orchard refuses to ratify the policy document or chooses to ratify only portions of it, McClure said, it could create a bad precedent and result in other cities — cities with less to gain from ratification — refusing to sign.

“There’s (already) some pretty strong feelings about the roles and responsibilities section,” McClure warned.

Despite a prolonged discussion about the abundance of “shalls” in the document — language that serves to mandate to cities rather than suggest — the council assured McClure all it wanted was time to make sure it knows what it’s approving.

“I’ve got a document here with a lot of highlighted changes — a lot more than what Mary mentioned,” said Councilman John Clauson. “It would be nice to know what we’re being asked to approve.”

The council voted to revisit the issue at its Dec. 22 meeting — the last council meeting before the deadline.

Apart from the sections identifying SKIA as a regional manufacturing center and Silverdale as an urban center, the revised planning policies include the following changes:

• a section making it the county’s responsibility to set road levels of service in rural areas; (Kitsap Transit becomes solely responsible for transit levels of service);

• the insertion of broadband (fiber optics) into the county’s planning considerations; and,

• increased consideration for safe walking and biking routes for kids traveling to school.

“A lot of shalls were changed into reasonable shoulds,” McClure said.

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