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SKIA gets PSRC’s preliminary OK

We are in.

Two policy boards of the Puget Sound Regional Council, which met Thursday morning, have recommended approval for including the South Kitsap Industrial Area and Silverdale in the PSRC’s list of regional centers. This means the two areas will now be eligible to receive federal transportation monies out of a $50 million pot.

Technically, the decision must be officially made by the PSRC’s executive board, which meets Feb. 26. But PSRC spokesman Rick Olson, who sat in on the joint meeting between the council’s growth management policy board and transportation policy board, said he doesn’t anticipate any major reversals.

“The board will accept the agreement of Kitsap because that’s the way we work,” Olson said. “I don’t expect the board to in any way tamper with the views of Kitsap.”

There was some question whether the PSRC would accept Kitsap’s application for new centers because Port Orchard did not meet the agency’s Dec. 31 deadline for countywide ratification. The city did finally formally approve ratification of the centers request Monday night, but refused to approve other countywide planning policy amendments included along with the centers portion.

Opponents of this decision said by approving only a portion of the overall planning policy document, the city was undermining its chances for PSRC approval. The Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council, for example, lobbied hard against Port Orchard’s efforts to pick and choose what it wanted to ratify. KRCC director Mary McClure said because this was Kitsap’s last shot at getting on the centers list, the city shouldn’t do anything to jeopardize its chances.

The PSRC changed its standards for regional centers, effective Jan. 1. Although under the new standards both SKIA and Silverdale would be far too small to be eligible as centers, the agency allowed Kitsap one last chance to grandfather the two areas in under the old standards. If the county, local tribes or Kitsap cities opposed the grandfathering, SKIA and Silverdale would be out of the running for a decade or more.

“We are an equal partner, but we are the smallest,” McClure said. “We don’t command a lot of votes. I’m sure many on the board would be just fine with not creating any new centers.”

Olson, however, said the PSRC is not that much of a “heavy.” He said he was bothered by all the testimony from people that portrayed the agency as a hardliner. So long as KItsap can agree on what it wants, Olson said, the PSRC isn’t going to tell it any different.

“We generally just let them decide,” he said. “The PSRC doesn’t impose anything.”

Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel said she was happy, but not necessarily surprised, to hear of the boards’ decision. City Councilwoman Carolyn Powers had told the council on Monday night that she had gotten positive feedback on the issue from a member of the PSRC’s transportation policy board, and that seemed to reassure many on the council.

Abel said she, like Olson, didn’t think the PSRC would take a hard-line stance about the last-minute ratification confusion. Nevertheless, she admitted the possible outcome of the boards’ joint meeting had stayed in the back of her mind all Thursday morning.

“Maybe I was a smidge worried,” Abel said. “That’s pretty cool news.”

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