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CAO’s opponents mull filing appeal

The Critical Areas Ordinance drama has at least one more act, following its its approval last week by the Kitsap County commissioners.

The Department of Community Development (DCD), which had six staff members working full-time on the ordinance for several months, has now focused its efforts on incorporating all the changes for signing by the commissioners at their Dec. 17 regular meeting.

Assistant DCD Director Jim Bolger said his department would post the document on-line after its final ratification — assuming it actually is final.

Now that the document has been approved by the commissioners, a 60-day appeal window opens, during which time anyone can challenge any part of the document, according to Bolger.

He said that most such ordinances are appealed for one reason or another.

“With an ordinance like this, no one gets everything they want,” he said. “I don’t know of any jurisdictions that have not been appealed.”

Kitsap Alliance for Property Owners Executive Director Vivian Henderson, who has long expressed opposition to the CAO, said her group had not yet decided what — or if — to appeal.

“There are many points that we could appeal,” Henderson said. “But the biggest one is how there was little or no public participation, and the input of the planning commission was ignored. These facts could be the grounds for a lawsuit.”

Bolger disagreed with her assessment, saying public opinion and planning commission documents greatly influenced the outcome.

“All the accumulated information was presented to the commissioners for their deliberation,” he said.

After the CAO is in effect for a year, the county must schedule evaluation sessions. And the whole process begins again in 2011.

“This is the nature of a public document,” Bolger said. “You constantly need to go back and re-evaluate it.”

If there are any appeals, it will take less attention from the DCD to prepare a response.

“If any appeals come along they will be fairly specific and won’t require any heavy lifting,” Bolger said.

Accordingly, residents should now expect better service from the DCD.

”We only have so many people who can do so many things,” Bolger said. “This process took away from our ability to give attention to permit applications. We will now start to process these in a more timely manner.”

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