Port Orchard: Annexations Are a Hot Topic

Annexation, specifically of the Bethel Corridor, was the center of a somewhat heated discussion between City of Port Orchard officials and South Kitsap Commissioner Charlotte Garrido at a City Council work study session on March 17. (see below)

The city will hold public hearings forums on two pending annexations on both Monday and Tuesday.

The Planning Commission will meet at 7 p.m. Monday. On its agenda is the McCormick Woods Annexation and the Geiger Road Annexation, in the vicinity of the intersection of Sedgwick Road (Highway 160) and Geiger Road east of Highway 16. The City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday to follow up with public hearings on both annexations.

The Geiger annexation is related to the Bethel-Sedgwick Road Annexation approved in February by the City Council. The Bethel Road annexation involves 39 properties worth a combined $42.4 million, including Fred Meyer, valued at $19.2 million, and representing about 45 percent of the total. The Bethel-Sedgwick annexation will be final March 29.

The Planning Commission will also discuss the Sidney & Sedgwick Corridor Sub-Area Plan.

The City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday to follow up with public hearings on both annexations.

Garrido, at the work study meeting, said the county is concerned about the way annexation along the Bethel-Sedgwick corridor is progressing. The county recognizes the city as the appropriate jurisdiction to eventually serve the Bethel-Sedgwick corridor. But with annexations occurring piecemeal along the corridor, the Kitsap County Sheriff’s office and public works departments are running into some confusion and difficulty serving the area, Garrido said.

The city has so far taken the approach of waiting for property owners to take the lead on annexation. There has been some talk among city officials of running a ballot measure that would allow the city to annex the entire urban growth area at once.

At the meeting, City Attorney Greg Jacoby asked if the council would be interested in drafting a policy to define the boundaries of the area it wishes to annex. The alternative would be to remain with the property-owner driven method of annexation, Jacoby said.

The city has been approached by property owners in a large portion of Bethel Road, identified as the Bethel Corridor North annexation. If and when these parcels become part of the city, Port Orchard would have jurisdiction over the the entire Bethel Corridor from current city limits to just beyond Sedgwick Road.

“I don’t think we’ve made any secret of the fact we want to annex the Bethel Corridor,” said Coppola. “This should be our goal for this year.”

Other city council members, including John Clauson and Fred Olin, expressed eagerness to annex Bethel North and as much of the rest of the city’s urban growth area as possible.

Until that happens, said Garrido, pending annexations make for “illogical” boundaries between the city and the county, resulting in “unnecessary and costly law enforcement and transportation issues.”

“Citizens don’t know where we stop and the city starts,” Garrido said.

Coppola responded by criticizing the county for its lack of progress on the Bethel Corridor Plan. The cost of widening the road to accommodate current and future traffic in South Kitsap’s main commercial area has risen to $43 million since 2000, when the Bethel Corridor Plan was adopted by the county’s board of commissioners. The county has spent $1.8 million out of its road fund on design and permitting, but the project is essentially at a standstill. A survey conducted by the county last year showed a lack of public support for a special taxing district or other taxing mechanisms to pay for it.

“The county’s had 20 years to do this, and they’ve spent all their money in Central Kitsap,” said Coppola., apparently referring to the Waaga Way interchange. “The county has not demonstrated the first bit of interest in fixing this problem.”

“I didn’t come to argue with you,” said Garrido. “I did tell you when you came to my office (at a meeting earlier this year) that I had some difficulty with this.”

Garrido said she was looking for coordination between the city and county that would make for a “smooth transition.”

Coppola said Port Orchard has been trying to work with the county, but city officials are chafing at the delay on improving an area critical to the city’s economic development.

“We’re not blaming you,” he later said to Garrido.” Please accept my apology if it seems like we’re taking our frustration out on you. We are frustrated.”

John Clauson said the Bethel Annexation shouldn’t be made the “poster child” for annexations gone awry, when the interlocal agreement between the county and Kitsap cities – drafted about a decade ago in anticipation of annexations happening now – is proving vague on exactly what a smooth transition is supposed to look like.

Clauson suggested that the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council, which includes all cities and the county, should look take a big picture look at annexations and the interlocal agreement. Part of the agreement calls for revenue sharing between jurisdictions for the first three years, with the city receiving 25 percent of sales tax revenue the first year, 50 percent the second and 75 percent the third. The purpose is to allow the county to make a gradual fiscal adjustment to the loss of revenue.

But Clauson pointed out an unintended consequence of the agreement. In the case of McCormick Woods, for example, the city will assume “100 percent” of the responsibility for road maintenance and law enforcement the first year, but they’ll only be getting 25 percent of the sales tax revenue

“From what we see, it’s going to cost us money to annex, but it’s what we’re supposed to be doing,” Clauson said.

But where McCormick Woods is almost entirely residential, the Bethel Corridor is mostly retail, including the heavy hitting Fred Meyer and Walmart, with Home Depot to come.

Loss of revenue from the area is sure to hit the already fiscally challenged county where it hurts, not matter how gradually it happens.

Councilman Rob Puutaansuu, who is on the city’s utility committee, addressed that issue, saying business owners along the Bethel Corridor have come to the city anxious to receive an “urban level of services.” He said the city will not just cherry pick the lucrative businesses on the corridor but will “do the right thing” and welcome residential property owners in the area surrounding the Bethel Corridor and beyond.

Garrido said she has approached state and federal legislators seeking federal stimulus money for the Bethel Corridor, which was not on the Puget Sound Regional Coordinating Council’s recommended list of projects for initial transportations stimulus funding.

4 thoughts on “Port Orchard: Annexations Are a Hot Topic

  1. I don’t think that Charlotte Garrido wants any progress to occur with this annexation. None whatsoever, to be honest. This one is going to drag out and cost MONEY to the taxpayers, developers and everyone else.

  2. ““The county’s had 20 years to do this, and they’ve spent all their money in Central Kitsap,” said Coppola., ”

    Really? A good bit of taxpayer money is spent on your three off lead dog parks…but where do you get your information?

    How much money have ‘they’ spent in each area of the county compared to dollars spent in SK?

    What is the percent of county spending for each area based on population?

    Do you fantisize the county is just plain mean and deliberately ignored the south end for twenty years?

    The ‘Squeeky Wheel’rule sometimes gets used so much that it gets ignored and never again oiled.
    In mny opinion…Sharon O’Hara

  3. “Coppola said Port Orchard has been trying to work with the county, but city officials are chafing at the delay on improving an area critical to the city’s economic development.

    “We’re not blaming you,” he later said to Garrido.” Please accept my apology if it seems like we’re taking our frustration out on you. We are frustrated.”…”

    The reality appears to be that Coppola DOES ‘blame’ Garrido. He seems to have a habit of mouthing off, later comes his apology. Such as his online exchange with the Kitsap County Visitors Bureau employee.

    Which is it? Is he so lacking in self-control? Likes the publicity? Or does he simply like to apologize?

    “resulting in “unnecessary and costly law enforcement and transportation issues.”

    “Citizens don’t know where we stop and the city starts,” Garrido said.”

    Garrido is right.
    I was born here, went to school at SK, often rode the foot ferry to Bremerton and spent a lot of time over there as an adult…and the two are one and the same to me…the ‘south end’ of the county.

    Reason and common sense should prevail here…without a mayor grabbing what he pleases without thought to county costs too.

    We ALL live in KITSAP COUNTY…we’re in the same pot why aren’t we reasonably working together for common benefit?
    In my opinion… Sharon O’Hara

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