Commissioners Uphold Reduced Buffer on NK’s Johnson Creek

In one of his first decisions as North Kitsap Commissioner, Steve Bauer, with the other two commissioners, upheld the department of community development’s decision to grant a buffer reduction to a property owner wanting to build a home on a tributary of Johnson Creek in North Kitsap.

Janet Wold, one of nine appellants who had sought to overturn the decision, was disappointed. She asserts the building plans in question don’t meet the county’s criteria for a variance.
“This was Bauer’s first decision, and we were really hopeful that he would look into it thoroughly enough to see that those criteria were not met. … I hope this is not an indication of the way things are going to go,” Wold said.

Wold said the case is significant because it represents what she sees as the county’s overly generous approach toward granting variances to the Critical Areas Ordinance rule requiring 150 setbacks from fish-bearing streams.
“The county, as far as we know, always gives variances,” said Wold. “They ignore their own policy.”

The public hearing took place on July 9, Bauer’s first meeting as commissioner, and he asked for more time to study the situation. Not enough time, according to Wold, after Bauer and the other two commissioners on Monday denied the appeal.
“This was Commissioner Bauer’s first decision, and we were really hopeful that he would look into it thoroughly enough to see that those criteria were not met. … I hope this is not an indication of the way things are going to go,” Wold said.

Vivian Henderson of the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners, however, was delighted with the ruling. At the meeting, she congratulated the commissioners on their ruling and said of the CAO’s buffer rule, “This has become a tool for neighbors of people who don’t want others to build homes.”

Bauer said after the meeting, he was satisfied that due process had been served in granting the variance. He said that he heard nothing in Wold’s testimony alluding to a cumulative effect on Johnson Creek for variances granted to property owners. He said he did hear her concern for the stream.
“It seems like this is a place I need to get out and look at,” Bauer said. “It’s an important fish stream, and we need to protect it.”

Wold hopes to take the appeal into litigation and is seeking a group or other entity, such as the state’s Department of Fisheries, to take the lead.

http://kitsapsun.com/news/2007/jul/26/commissioners-uphold-reduced-setback-on-johnson/

One thought on “Commissioners Uphold Reduced Buffer on NK’s Johnson Creek

  1. Good luck on getting a federal agency to take the lead on a local, project level issue. It ain’t gonna happen. I’d bet you’ll need to form your own group to proceed with another appeal. It’s a tough road to hoe. This County does not seem to want to protect it’s own resources and Federal agencies do not want to interfere in “local issues”. It makes me worry for our future.

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