A Snapshot of the SKIA Annexation Discussion

South Kitsap Reporter Chris Henry here, filling in for vacationing Steve Gardner.

I attended the Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce-hosted Eggs and Issues breakfast held this morning at the Cloverleaf Tavern in East Bremerton (just eggs and issues were served no alcohol at this hour). It was a good chance for me to immerse myself in the proposed annexation of the South Kitsap Industrial Area by the City of Bremerton. On Thursday, I’ll be covering a meeting of officials from the Port of Bremerton, City of Bremerton, City of Port Orchard, Kitsap County and West Sound Utility District regarding Port Orchard’s role in SKIA should the annexation move forward.

How Port Orchard will fit into the future of SKIA was one of several recurring themes addressed by the panel, which included Bremerton City Council President Will Maupin, Port of Bremerton Commissioner Bill Mahan and David Overton, whose family is the primary private property owner within SKIA boundaries (the other big player is McCormick Land Company). James Weaver, director of development for the City of Port Orchard, arrived later.

Other issues discussed were:

The potential cost of annexation to City of Bremerton residents.

Environmental issues

The likely time line should annexation proceed.

Impact on City of Bremerton residents:
Long-time resident Louis Soriano said, “I’m frightened to death that the process is going to go through and we’re not going to address the things that will affect the common citizen.” (taxes, fire and police protection, cost of infrastructure)
Maupin said the city has done a cost/benefit analysis and found that the potential revenue from SKIA will more than offset the cost to taxpayers.
You can get a copy of this analysis by going to the city’s Web site (go to “Community Development” then “Annexation”) or request a hard copy by calling (360) 473-5383. Word has it the analysis is not a light summer read. Call the same number with questions.

Environmental Issues
Vivian Henderson of the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners started off the discussion by asking how much power Kitsap and North Mason tribes would hold in decisions regarding development of SKIA. Mahan said tribes’ main interest related to SKIA would be any impact on the Hood Canal and Sinclair Inlet watershed.
Overton said, “That’s a very good question. It’s one of the third rails of Washington State politics.”
Overton followed up by saying the tribes have a strong interest in economic development which, in his opinion, hasn’t diminished their vision of environmental stewardship.
Mahan said the tribes aren’t the only ones with environmental concerns that will come into play as SKIA is developed.
Overton said that, environmentally speaking, putting a large industrial development in the proposed location makes sense. His family has been in the timber industry for decades. The soil around the airport is not good for timber, but supports mostly alder and brush – not prime wildlife habitat.
Bremerton’s director of public works Phil Williams said that the city has been using more and more low impact development techniques, such a permeable pavement that keeps storm water run-off on site. He said the city would employ as much low impact development as possible in SKIA.
Reporter Chris Dunagan plans a story on the environmental aspects of SKIA. If you have thoughts or information, e-mail him at cdunagan@kitsapsun.com.

Potential Annexation Time Line:
The process began when a preliminary petition to annex was submitted to the city. The law required that the preliminary petition be signed by representatives of at least 10 percent of the property within the SKIA boundary. The port owns 55 percent of SKIA’s 3,400 acres. One hundred percent of property owners signed the preliminary petition.
Bremerton has indicated its willingness to consider annexation, which was the next step in the courtship.
The annexation is coming in in two sections SKIA North and SKIA South. Property owners representing 75 percent of the land within SKIA North have submitted a petition to annex. If the city accepts, the annexation of that land goes through.
The Bremerton City Council will discuss SKIA North at a study session July 23. (An information packet on the session will be available to the public online at the city’s Web site July 18. Action on the issue is expected July 30.
There’s one more thing, however, and that’s the Kitsap County Boundary Review Board, which needs to review the proposal. If the board “invokes jurisdiction,” Mahan said, process could be extended about six months. Whenever the board approves, “Then it’s just a matter of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.”

Stay tuned for the outcome of Thursday’s meeting regarding PO’s role should SKIA be annexed into Bremerton.
Port Orchard officials are willing to enter into cooperative agreements regarding the development of SKIA, said Weaver. But Mayor Lary Coppola and the city council – who “underlying vision” is to advance the prosperity of SK citizens – are worried about losing any meaningful say in SKIA’s future.
“There’s implications far beyond the lines drawn on a map,” said Weaver, noting that South Kitsap’s population represents a third of county residents. “How is there some lasting discussion with the county and City of Port Orchard if annexation happens? There may not be any discussion as Bremerton takes the ball and runs with it.”

One thought on “A Snapshot of the SKIA Annexation Discussion

  1. I tried posting yesterday, but it didn’t take. Let me try it again. I want to comment on this:

    “Vivian Henderson of the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners started off the discussion by asking how much power Kitsap and North Mason tribes would hold in decisions regarding development of SKIA.

    Overton said, “That’s a very good question. It’s one of the third rails of Washington State politics.”

    It doesn’t have to be. The democrats – over the past 25 years that they have ruled this state – have enlisted the Tribes in support of their various causes and elevated tribal status to make their alliance all that more formidable. In exchange for their support, they have ceded much of our “sovereignty” to tribal oversight.

    That can – and should – be changed.

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