Down to the Wire for PO’s Downtown Plan

We know you’ve heard it before, but this time, really, the end is in sight.

The City of Port Orchard on Monday will roll out the final draft of its downtown plan for a first reading.

How is this different from other City Council discussions of the draft? Check out the word “final.” The council has completed its item by item dissection of the document, having achieved “consensus” on each of its fine points. Work on the document at Monday’s meeting will be to clean up any errors or inconsistency noted by council members in their review of the final draft, said Mayor Kim Abel.

Public comment will be taken, but that does not amount to a re-opening of public testimony, Abel said. It’s even conceivable that the council could put its seal of approval on the DOD plan and send it out the door. Abel, however, thinks it’s more likely that the clean-up will require at least one more meeting.

Abel’s quote, “Maybe it’s just my paranoia. People have been waiting so long to see this completed.”

Get your copy of the plan at

I wrote a story that includes highlights of the plan. Not sure when it will post on the Web site, so here it is.

PO Council Down to the Wire on its Downtown Plan

By Chris Henry
The City of Port Orchard on Monday will roll out the final draft of its downtown plan for a first reading.
The City Council has been working on the document for more than a year. Its purpose, as stated in the draft, is to promote mixed use (residential and commercial), environmentally sustainable development in the downtown core, while preserving views and promoting a “small town feel.”
City officials, residents, business owners and building owners all hope the plan will promote the economic revitalization of Port Orchard.
Earlier this month, the council completed an item by item review of the draft, a task that took more than a month longer than originally anticipated. Prior to that the public spend several months gathering and evaluating public testimony on the plan.
The biggest hot button issue has been building height. The council has struggled to reconcile the sometimes conflicting desires of residents worried about losing their views and building owners who say they need greater height allowances to make development economically feasible.
In the final draft of the plan, height regulations are as follows:
Within the downtown core, officially known as the central Downtown Overlay District, buildings on the north or water side of Bay Street may be constructed up to 27 feet, with increases up to 39 feet permitted under certain conditions. These include meeting the requirements for a conditional use permit and providing amenities — added features of public value and appeal— worth at least 1 percent of the value of the building and land.
A “menu” of approved amenities is part of the draft plan and includes such items as water features, trees and public gathering areas.
On the south side of the city’s main corridor, on lots that abut Bay Street and are between Bay Street and Prospect Alley/Street, the maximum allowable building height is 39 feet, which may be increased up to 55 feet with a conditional use permit and amenities.
On lots on the south side of Bay Street that do not abut Bay Street, the maximum allowable building height is back to 27 feet, which may be increased up to 39 feet with a conditional use permit and amenities.
Another condition, called Structure Height Modulation, applies to all buildings above the maximum allowable height, with the purpose of preserving views as much as possible.
In buildings on lots where the maximum height is 27 feet without a conditional use permit, the gross floor area above this height “shall not be more than 75 percent of the gross floor area immediately below.” In the case of lots that allow for a maximum height of 39 feet, the same rule applies above 39 feet. The idea was to avoid boxy structures that block views entirely and to create so-called view corridors.
Mayor Kim Abel said she will allow public comment on the draft, which has appeared in many incarnations since its initial inception. But that doesn’t amount to reopening public testimony on the document. While it is conceivable the council could adopt the plan on Monday, it is more likely they will make some last minute fine tuning before setting the plan in stone, Abel said.
“Maybe it’s just my paranoia,” she said. “People have been waiting so long to see this completed.”
A copy of the draft downtown plan is available at the city’s Web site,

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