Kitsap Commissioners to Consider Sewers & “the Laughter of Children”

Two public hearings of note on Monday’s agenda for the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners.

1. The board will hear an appeal by the Farmhouse Montessori School in South Kitsap of the county hearing examiner’s denial for a special permit that would allow the school/day care to operate in a rural neighborhood.

2. The Board of Commissioners also will take up the issue of whether to form a Local Improvement District to extend a sewer line along Colchester Drive in Manchester.

Farmhouse Montessori

Kitsap County planners recommended approval of the school’s permit request, but when the project reached the Hearing Examiner Ted Hunter, several nearby residents said they weren’t too keen on the proposal, especially considering the extra traffic, noise and potential damage to the environment.
Hunter denied the permit, saying the use would be detrimental to the surrounding property owners.

“Educating children is an admirable profession and laudable goal,” Hunter wrote in his findings. “Montessori schools offer a unique perspective on the educational process and can provide a valuable service to the community. (But) noise generated by laughter and screaming of young children during outdoor playtime and by up to 84 vehicle trips to and from the property would be materially detrimental to single-family residential properties in the immediate vicinity.”

Manchester Sewer LID 9

The Board of commissioners deferred a decision on the matter, after testy testimony from area residents, who questioned the accuracy of the costs and the process by which LID boundaries were drawn.

Ron Rada, chairman of the Manchester Community Council’s sewer committee, is spearheading the LID process. After the previous meeting in June, he submitted to the board a detailed response to questions raised during the hearing.

Among other questions, Rada addresses a concern about LID boundaries raised by Kitsap County Assessor Jim Avery, a Manchester resident. Avery asked why some properties between the previously formed LID 8 and the proposed LID 9 were not required to be part of either district. Avery said it was unfair to other residents that these folks weren’t obliged to pay their share of the cost.

Rada, in his letter, explained that some property owners joined LID 8 as latecomers, a move approved by the board. The latecomers and those who didn’t want to hook up to the sewer form a patchwork of properties between LID 8 and 9, some with sewer service, some without.

The committee couldn’t legally require the unsewered properties to be part of LID 9, Rada explained, because the sewer line had already been extended to accommodate the latecomers in LID 8. The law permits LID boundaries to include only properties without current access to sewer. When and if the septic on the properties in LID no-man’s-land fail, they will be required to either fix them or hook up to the sewer, Rada said.

Rada also sent me an article by John Carpita, a public works consultant, explaining how local utility districts are formed . The title of the article, “Are We Having Fun Yet?” hints at the complexity of the process, but Carpita spells it out in his introduction, saying, “LIDs are more fun than root canals without novocaine, a three-month visit from your in-laws, balancing city budgets… (with) a reputation as difficult to administer, time consuming and a public relations disaster waiting to happen (my emphasis added).”

The article addresses the issue of proportionality of assessments. “Statutes specify that the assessment per parcel must not exceed the special benefit, which is defined as the fair market value of the property before and after the local improvement project,” Carpita writes.

Resident Tom Warren questioned whether residents were proportionately represented. The petition approval was determined by area of property, giving those with larger properties more weight in the vote, yet the amount assessed per property is the same, he observed. Carpita’s article confirms that the LID petition “needs to be signed by owners of 51 percent of area within the LID.” (The LID 9 petition just barely met this threshold.) Clearly, Rada & company followed the statutes. However, the question the commissioners need to answer (and one that perhaps Avery himself could address) is whether having access to the sewer line conveys equal value to each property regardless of its size.

I’m going on vacation next week, so will pass this off into other capable hands. But I’ll be watching to see how the commissioners rule and invite your comments of enlightenment before or after the meeting. Cheers.

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