Manchester Plan on the Verge of Adoption

The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners has announced it will make a decision on the proposed Manchester Plan in December, setting wheels in motion for the plan’s adoption as part of the county’s Comprehensive Plan by the start of 2008. This follows months of work on the part of Manchester residents and county staff to craft an update to the 2002 Manchester Plan.

County staff hope to keep the adoption of the plan on track and, at the same time, mollify property owners seeking to develop in downtown Manchester by making a special provision. They will not incorporate into the plan consideration of properties that could be reclassified for different types of land use (in most cases owners seeking to develop at higher densities), but they will accept applications for site specific land use reclassifications earlier than usual (beginning in November, instead of next March). If such applications make it through all the hoops, the earliest they could become effective would be late 2008.

Bill Palmer, a land use consultant, got the ball rolling by appealing to the county’s department of community development on behalf of five property owners looking at mixed use (residential with retail) projects in downtown Manchester. Jim Bolger, of the DCD, says there are probably others out there with similar goals, and his department would like to know about them sooner rather than later so planning for Manchester’s development can proceed with a comprehensive view to the interests of all concerned.

The county’s Planning Commission will get a report from county staff on the proposed Manchester Community plan this Tuesday at 9 a.m. So far, the PC has ruled on aspects of the plan including building heights and design standards, with a tendency to support those who favor a moderate-to-limited approach to development, i.e. building heights set at 28 feet (rather than higher) and an imposing list of design standards for developers.

What’s your position on the proposed Manchester Plan? Do you think it strikes a good balance between maintaining Manchester’s small town feel and promoting development that could help sustain its economy? Or do you think it should have been crafted differently?

2 thoughts on “Manchester Plan on the Verge of Adoption

  1. When I was looking for a house to buy in this area, my realtor said: “You’ve got to see Manchester.” I’d never heard of it before, but I figured what the heck? When we came down the hill into Manchester for the first time, two things struck me: 1) This little town has the most spectacular setting I’d ever seen. 2) I can’t believe this hadn’t been “Belltowned” yet. (By the way, I found a house I loved and bought it later that week.) I soon found out about the various plans for development in Manchester. My feelings were torn — on the one hand, the proposed projects would enhance my new home’s value, and on the other hand, what would this town look like in five years? Some sort of condo-ized, upscale mini-me of the city across the sound? But the final plan seems to me to be a sound compromise, and like any good compromise, both sides (developers and existing residents) give a bit and get a bit. From what I can tell, the people who crafted the Manchester Plan did a pretty fair job in addressing height restrictions, maintaining views, and yet still allowing developers the chance to make a fair profit. To be honest, now I’m looking forward to see what my new hometown will be in another couple of years. I think it’s going to be something this area has needed for a long time — a sophisticated urban enclave that combines the best of city life and the beautiful setting it’s in. (I also don’t mind the increased tax revenues, but that’s another comment altogether.)

  2. We’ve all debated the commercial core building height restrictions and design standards. What’s important now, in my opinion, is to plan ahead so that residential parking isn’t impacted within the MVC (condo visitors/friends will probably try to park on the side streets, which will block the bike lanes and existing neighbors parking. Also where will these new condo dwellers take their pets? We need to remind them to scoop the poop (honestly, this is already a big issue if you walk along Colchester, Spring, Puget Drive); plus they need to keep control of their animals.

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