Suit filed over racetrack site

A citizen’s group initiated legal action against the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday, claiming it stifled public input prior to a recent rezoning decision affecting land earmarked for the proposed NASCAR facility.

Kitsap Citizens for Responsible Planning (KCRP) filed with two separate agencies in order to strike down the decision and re-open the public comment process.

The county’s zoning action, approved at the commissioners’ April 11 meeting, changed the designation of racetracks from a “prohibited” to an “allowed” use for land near the Bremerton Airport.

The move ultimately paved the way for construction of a NASCAR facility on that land.

Like other KCRP actions with regard to the proposed racetrack, the complaint is less concerned with the zoning change itself than it is the manner in which the change was effected.

“At the time, they said the action was to correct a clerical error,” said KCRP spokesman Charlie Burrow. “They need to re-open the matter and subject it to full public scrutiny.”

The complaint, filed in Pierce County Superior Court, called the action “the culmination of the county’s secret dealings with ISC.”

KCRP filed concurrently with the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board to strike down the board’s decision.

Shelley Kneip, chief civil deputy in the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office, said the concurrent filing was “unusual” but feels the county will prevail in both jurisdictions.

“It was a correct decision,” Kneip said. “We need to get all of the data together that supports the action.”

Burrow said to file it in Kitsap would invite the assigned judge’s recusal.

Kneip said she has been involved in defending the county against several KCRP actions, and this one was typical of those cases.

One of the topics that could emerge during open hearings is whether a racetrack represents appropriate zoning.

“The initial intent for that area was to house high-quality businesses that supply professional jobs,” Burrow said. “A racetrack doesn’t really do that.”

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