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Annexation talks yield agreement

Obstacles to the annexation of the McCormick Woods subdivision by the city of Port Orchard were largely overcome at a meeting on Wednesday afternoon during which officials from the city met with representatives of Kitsap County to iron out their differences.

“I was very pleased with the outcome,” said Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola. “We came to an agreement on most of the issues and how to handle them. I am optimistic.” 

Said South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel, “We had a really good meeting, and we will start developing a pre-annexation agreement to be distributed to the county, the city and the citizens as soon as possible.”

After discussing the issues, city and county staff are assembling a letter that is expected to go to the public this week.

It will outline the upcoming strategy and let people know what to expect.

Concurrently, Coppola said, “The lawyers will have to take a look at it.”

The three points of contention addressed at the meeting were the distribution of impact fees already collected by the county, the development of a stormwater system and the maintenance of the 65-acre McCormick Village Park.

Of the three, the previously most contentious — the distribution of the impact fees — was the easiest to resolve.

The county has collected approximately $300,000 from new construction that is earmarked for road maintenance. Kitsap County Special Projects Manager Eric Baker said the money is in a separate account awaiting this distribution and will be transferred to the city on a pro-rated basis when the annexation is complete.

The annexation idea originated last year, when McCormick Woods residents began examining the possibility of becoming part of Port Orchard in order to take advantage of city services.

It was determined that owners of 75 percent of the assessed value would need to support the project.

The committee decided to proceed, but the city needed to make sure that money collected for certain purposes be spent in that manner or turned over the city for the same purpose.

After several delays, annexation advocates accused the county — and specifically Angel — of obstructing the process.

Angel took issue with this, and drafted a strongly worded response that angered Coppola.

This led to a discussion between the two, and the successful meeting.

Coppola and Angel met at Port Orchard City Hall. Other attendees were Baker and Angie Silva from the county, Port Orchard Development Director James Weaver and Port Orchard City Counselor John Clauson.

Due to nature of those attending, it was not officially classified as a public meeting. Consequently, the media and public were not invited.

This was a deliberate action, since Coppola dis-invited members of the city council in order to keep the number of attendees within the legal limit for a private meeting.

While City Counselman Fred Chang maintained that “it should be a public meeting,” the head of a citizen’s group driving the annexation process agreed with Coppola’s strategy.

“It sounded like they made some progress,” said Annexation Committee Chairman Dick Davis. “When there are a lot of people around, they might take something inconsequential and blow it out of proportion. As long as no decisions were made, it makes sense for them to sit down and talk and disagree without having the public breathe down your back.”

Both the city and the county officials predict the agreements will be in place by the middle of October, after which the petition drive in support of annexation will presumably begin.

Annexation advocates have expressed a reluctance to begin the petition drive until the resolution of all the financial issues between the city and the county.

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