Citizen Advisory Group gets back down to business

Last March, the Kitsap County Department of Community Development (DCD), along with the City of Port Orchard, renewed its efforts to complete the Port Orchard Urban Growth Area (UGA) Sub-Area planning process for South Kitsap and refreshed the Citizen Advisory Group (CAG) originally assigned to assist in the process.

The project has undergone several changes of staff, prolonging the completion of the project for years.

“I’ve been involved for a couple of years now,” said Lary Coppola, CAG Chair. “I was just elected chairman not long ago.”

According to the DCD, the plan will be developed under the guidelines established in the Kitsap County Comprehensive Plan, the County-wide Planning Policies, Vision 2020, and the Growth Management Act (GMA).

“The Growth Management Act says that you have to periodically update the comprehensive plan and urban growth boundaries,” Coppola said.

According to Coppola, the complex process is a joint effort between Kitsap County and the City of Port Orchard because the UGA boundaries will most likely be expanded outside the city limits.

Specifically, the CAG has been charged with defining the UGA boundary for the City of Port Orchard. According to the DCD, the group will also address issues such as land use, economic development, environmental protection, transportation and capital facilities:

“The intent of a sub-area plan is to recognize what residents appreciate about their community and develop the standards and regulations to preserve those distinguished characteristics,” Coppola explained. “Once the plan is developed and approved by the Board of County Commissioners, it becomes a legal document that establishes standards and guidelines that will be adhered to by the community.”

The DCD and the city also use the CAG to receive input from residents, business owners and land owners, alike. The problem, Coppola said, is that some members of the CAG have vastly different views on the topic, sometimes governed by self-interest.

“There are some people (in the CAG) that don’t want to see any expansion; there are some that want massive expansion,” Coppola said.

“It’s been ongoing for too long now,” Coppola said. “The process has outlasted three planning directors.”

Coppola said he estimates the planning process will be complete in early 2006.

Rick Flaherty, CEO and president of the Port Orchard-based Leader International Corp., said he was asked by County Commissioner Jan Angel to join the group. He said his interest in serving on the CAG stems from his view, as a business owner hoping to expand, that successfully updating the GMA in Kitsap County has been a problem.

“You can’t just ask for things to be changed and improved if you’re not willing to get your hands dirty,” he said.

Flaherty, along with several others, submitted a site-specific amendment proposal with Kitsap County close to two years ago. According to Flaherty, the process is allowed under the GMA to change the zoning or assess the current UGA in order to make a decision on whether it makes sense to expand or enhance the current boundaries for a specific business.

“We need to expand right now,” Flaherty said. “When we built our new facility here in 2002, we built what we thought was enough for five to seven years of expansion.”

Flaherty said the business reached its capacity within six months.

Flaherty’s proposal was approved by the Board of Commissioners and he immediately began the process of annexing the acquired land in order to avoid an appeal.

An appeal was indeed filed and Flaherty believes he will know whether the proposal stands within the next two months.

“You are only allowed to grow within an urban growth area,” said Angel. “Our UGA is very limited right now. It needs to be expanded so we can continue to grow as a community.”

“I think it’s clear that we need to expand the urban growth area,” Coppola said. “The question is: how big does it need to be?”

CAG meetings are open to the public. For more information visit

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