Recapping 2008 Power Struggles Over SKIA

Today’s Kitsap Sun features a recap of top stories for 2008. We reporters were assigned to write synopeses of those for our coverage area. On my to-do list, because Steve Gardner’s on a well-deserved vacation, was the tension that developed over the year between Bremerton and Port Orchard over the South Kitsap Industrial Area.
But just as I was poised over my keyboard to begin writing, I was informed that SKIA didn’t make the cut after all.
Perhaps it more appropriately belongs on our list of upcoming 2009 stories, to be published later this week. After all, the issue of whether or not Port Orchard will be the designated provider of sewer services to the South Kitsap Industrial Area is yet to be settled.
Private property owners began pushing earlier this year for the annexation of the 3,250-acre area slated for industrial development into the city of Bremerton in the belief that the city is equipped to handle permitting faster than the county — a key component, they said, to encourage development.
The Port of Bremerton, which owns more than half of SKIA, agreed in August to move ahead with the annexation petition despite concerns over an agreement with the city of Port Orchard regarding sewers.
Port Orchard maintains it has a right to provide sewer service to the area under a 2003 agreement it signed with the Port of Bremerton. Since the process began, PO city officials have been pressing the port and the city of Bremerton for assurance that the agreement would be honored.
But Bremerton officials have resisted, saying it is premature to decide who will provide infrastructure to SKIA. Bremerton also is now in a position to run sewer lines to SKIA because of the extension of its sewer service to Gorst.
Tempers flared in July at a heavily-attended public meeting of the key players in the proposed annexation, including the port, Bremerton, Port Orchard and private property owners.
Following Bremerton’s acceptance of the annexation petition, Port Orchard challenged the proposal before the county’s boundary review board, triggering a public hearing and extending what could have been a 45-day process to 120 days.
The annexation is segmented into two parts, the smaller SKIA North, on which the BRB will deliberate at their 7 p.m. Jan. 8 meeting, and SKIA South, which includes the port’s property. There will be a public hearing on SKIA South Jan. 23. The BRB’s decision on SKIA North is expected Jan. 30; SKIA South is scheduled for a decision on Feb. 25.
Most recently, Bremerton challenged portions of Port Orchard’s comprehensive plan update, including a map showing SKIA as a future sewer service area. The final plan does not include SKIA on the map, but, count on it, Port Orchard will continue to assert itself with regard to the SKIA/sewer issue. Stay tuned.

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