County Commissioners Shoot Down Colchester Commons

My note: It appears that Manchester residents who favor restricted heights in the downtown area have the ear of the county’s Board of Commissioners. The board recently ruled against Colchester Commons, a controversial development project (see below). And from their comments on a proposed revision of the Manchester Plan, it appears the commissioners are about to uphold a 2-story maximum height limit in plan, set for adoption at the board’s Dec. 17 meeting. The board earlier this year approved and extended a temporary two-story limit that blocked new applications for three-story projects while residents and county staff hammered out the details of the revised plan.

Some residents who favor height restrictions are still smarting, however, from the fact that another three-story project, approved before the two-story rule went into effect, managed to proceed and is now under construction. Opinions on The Anchors at Manchester are mixed. Doug and Cerissa Holme, who brought the appeal against Colchester Commons, said they think The Anchors will be a tasteful addition to Manchester, but at a public hearing on the Manchester Plan, resident Stu Lombard compared the building to ” a giant index finger in the face of Manchester.”

Here’s the story on the Colchester Commons appeal.

Jan Angel says the project is not “compatible” with Manchester

By Chris Henry
chenry@kitsapsun.com
The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners has ruled that a proposed residential-retail development in Manchester is incompatible with the town’s character and should not be allowed to proceed.
Colchester Commons, with three stories above ground plus an underground parking garage, was approved for a permit in 2006 before rules went into effect restricting building height in Manchester’s business district to a maximum of two stories.
But Doug and Cerissa Holme, who own a restaurant across the street from the site, challenged the project in April, saying it was grossly out of scale with surrounding buildings.
The board of commissioners agreed and in May sent the project back to the county’s hearing examiner for review. Hearing examiner Stephen Causseaux, however, stood by his findings that the project should be allowed.
The Holmes and property owner B.J. Park engaged in a series of counter appeals, bringing the matter back before the commissioners in early November. The commissioners ruled on the latest appeal Nov. 26, once again striking down the proposed project.
“The appellants argued, among other things, that the hearing examiner erred in finding the project harmonious and compatible with future development in Manchester. I agree,” said South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel.
Angel said Causseaux had only to look The Anchors at Manchester, another three-story project approved prior to the height restriction, for an example of a project that will complement the quaint waterfront town.
“This is not a height issue. This is a compatibility issue,” Angel said.
The board also objected, as they had in May, to a part of the plan calling for a 5,000-square-foot “courtyard” that the owner said might someday be converted to retail or office space. By billing the space as a courtyard and not clearly disclosing future plans, Park was trying to avoid applying for a conditional use permit, which would be required for retail space, the appellants argued.
Angel again agreed. “In my view, the applicant has deliberately remained vague on the use to be put in that open area, and he has created a conflict between two applicable code provisions,” she said.
The board, including commissioners Josh Brown and Steve Bauer, voted unanimously to deny the project.

2 thoughts on “County Commissioners Shoot Down Colchester Commons

  1. Does anyone know if the downtown Manchester Spruce House mixed use project can/will proceed with their permit? It is over 15,000 square feet, three story rectangular box proposed to breakground on Colchester between the Post Office and Spruce Street. The “design standards” are, in my opinion non-existent. Thanks!

  2. I e-mailed Scott Diener of the county’s community development department to see if he knew the answer. Here’s what he said.

    “I do not know that. They are vested to allow 3 stories, but we have not yet begun to review the project, as we just got the Findings for the Directors Interpretation. I also do not know if there will be an appeal to the courts.

    Cheers,
    Scott

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