Category Archives: Land Use

All PO Citizens Invited to Weigh in on McCormick Woods Park

Public Invited to Comment on McCormick Woods Park

Parks planning meeting set for Wednesday at City Hall.
By Chris Henry
Planning for a 63.5-acre public park in the McCormick Woods-Sunnyslope area advanced Tuesday, when the Port Orchard City Council approved a contract with a Seattle architectural firm that will help citizens develop a master site plan for the park.
Money for park development, including professional consultant services, came to the city as a result of annexation of the McCormick Woods urban growth area last year. The county had collected $643,732 in development impact fees to cover the planning and creation of the park, and the money was transferred to the city under an annexation inter-local agreement. The city now is responsible for developing and maintaining the park on Old Clifton Road.
Jones & Jones Architects and Landscape Consultants of Seattle will lead the planning process. A meeting with the McCormick Village Park subcommittee is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall. The city is paying the award-winning design company $40,000 for its services.
Among the questions Jones & Jones staff will ask: “What makes the acreage of the proposed park unique in terms of topography and history?” “Who will be using the park, and what uses will it serve?” “What method will the city use to create the park?”
All citizens of Port Orchard, not only those on the park committee or in the McCormick Woods area, are invited to weigh in on planning for the park, said development director James Weaver.
Park committee meetings, listed on the city’s website,, are open to the public. The committee will meet through September. The city will conduct public hearings about the committee’s proposals through December and adopt the park plan before the end of the year. Construction on the park will likely begin in September 2011.
Information on the park can be found on the city’s website or call the planning department at (360) 876-4991.

McCormick Village Park (Proposed)

Planning Starts Monday on McCormick Village Park

McCormick Village Park Planning Begins
By Chris Henry
The McCormick Woods Park Design Committee will meet at 7 p.m. Monday with the city of Port Orchard Planning Commission to kick-off planning for the 63.5 acre McCormick Village Park. The meeting is at City Hall, 216 Prospect St.
The park is located North of Old Clifton Road in the McCormick Woods area, which was annexed in 2009. On Feb. 22 Kitsap County and the city agreed on transfer of the regional park to Port Orchard.
The design committee, made up of McCormick Woods residents and members of the planning commission, will identify a vision and goals for the park. Associate City Planner Tom Bonsell is project manager for the park planning process. He will be assisted by a professional consultant as plans for the park take shape.
The design committee intends to complete its recommendations by the end of the year and forward them to the city council for consideration.
The park issue will be taken up Monday as part of the planning commission’s regular meeting.
The park will be open to the public. The McCormick Woods community and all Port Orchard residents are encouraged to take part in the planning process. A survey on the city’s parks may be found at Additional comments and suggestions can be sent to City of Port Orchard, 216 Prospect Street, Port Orchard, WA 98366, or e-mailed to .

Getting the “Dirt” on Sustainable Cinema

Coming up this Sunday is the second in a series of monthly documentaries on sustainable living to be shown at the Historic Orchard Theatre in Port Orchard. The Sustainable Cinema series is hosted by Kitsap County, specifically South Kitsap Commissioner Charlotte Garrido.

Garrido, on Monday, said the series is intended as a complement to the activities of the numerous groups around Kitsap County —including the county itself — that are dedicated to preserving natural resources and promoting a sustainable lifestyle.

Sustainability, in short, is the capacity to endure. The goal is a world in which human needs are fulfilled in a manner that does not deplete the source of those needs. Locally, initiatives related to sustainability involve food, construction, environmental protection and other efforts.

About 30 people attended January’s showing of “End of the Line” a documentary about the effects of over-fishing. Coming up this month is the award-winning “Dirt, the Movie,” about the nature, importance and surprising fragility of soil.

Garrido said she got the idea for the Sustainable Cinema series last year while in Washington D.C. for a conference. In D.C., the film festival involved a number of venues.

Kitsap is not D.C., but the Orchard is known for showing documentaries and other non-mainstream cinema. Future films will depend on what’s available at any given time, said Garrido. Suffice it to say there is no lack of material. She showed me a catalog chock full of documentaries on sustainability.

To pay for the series, Garrido has allocated $750 of the South Kitsap Commissioners discretionary fund. Each of the three Kitsap County commissioners has money in the county’s budget to spend on projects specific to his or her area of the county, “things that wouldn’t get done any other way,” Garrido said. The cost to bring the films to The Orchard is around $100 each. Once the $750 is expended, Garrido said she herself would fund additional showings as long as there is sufficient interest.

Garrido welcomes suggestions for documentaries people would like to see. E-mail her at

What: Dirt the Movie
When: 4:35 p.m. Sunday
Where: Historic Orchard Theatre, 822 Bay St., Port Orchard
Cost: $3 (usual adult price is $9.50)

PO’s Plans to Become an Urban Center Would be Selling “Your Political Soul to the Devil,” KAPO REP Says

Funding for which the city would become eligible come with to many “strings,” critics say.
By Chris Henry
Members of the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners and other community members on Tuesday raised a chorus of warning against a proposal by the City of Port Orchard to seek designation as an Urban Growth Center through the Puget Sound Regional Council.
Port Orchard would seek the designation as part of its yet-to-be-approved comprehensive plan update, set to come before the council Dec. 22.
Becoming an urban growth center would entitle the city to a first crack at state and federal funding for transportation and infrastructure overseen by the PSRC, said Development Director James Weaver at a public hearing on the comp plan update. The change in status would put Port Orchard in a league with Bremerton and Silverdale when it comes to accessing certain transportation funds, he said.
The city could still apply for other federal and state funds and grants even if it does not become an urban growth center. The process is highly competitive and would take about three years, Weaver said. The Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council would have to give its blessing before the matter would move on to the PSRC.
Port Orchard is eligible to apply for the designation since its population grew to more than 10,000 in 2009. Annexations, including the McCormick Woods development, raised the population from 8,420 to 10,836.
As part of its comp plan update, the city shows future plans to develop its downtown area as a transportation hub. Key to this is construction of a parking garage and retail complex known as the Port Orchard Town Center Revitalization Project . The estimated cost of the project is $36.6 million.
The city will likely proceed with the transportation hub plan, even if it doesn’t become an urban growth center, but funding administered through the PSRC represents a significant source of money for this and other capital projects on Port Orchard’s horizon.
But those who testified about the proposal said seeking the title of urban growth center would make the city beholden to the PSRC, a regional body made up of representatives from a four-county area, including King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. Critics cited goals of the PSRC’s Vision 2040 as having the potential to dictate quality of life in South Kitsap.
“Make no mistake,” said KAPO’s Executive Director Vivian Henderson. “Once you get tangled up in the strings attached to PSRC grants, you have sold your political soul to the devil.”
“I would suggest you resist this siren song and, instead, consider helping Kitsap leave the PSRC in 2012,” said Silverdale resident and KAPO member Bob Benze.
“To me the PSRC is trying to change what our community is all about,” said Port Orchard resident Gerry Harmon. “If you don’t jump through their hoops, you’re not going to get the money. Everything we do will be to get those funds. Those funds will only come when we are running through those hoops.”
Mayor Lary Coppola asked Weaver to clarify requirements of being an urban growth center. Weaver said, as far as Port Orchard’s comp plan is concerned, the PSRC would be able to comment on it, as they have in the past. But the designation would give the PSRC no additional authority to dictate details of comp plan regulations.
After the meeting, Coppola, who has written blog posts critical of Vision 2040, said, “I heard all the people who spoke about it (the proposal) loud and clear last night, and I understand their fear, but this is a council decision. This is not my decision, and I think there’s pros and cons on both sides of it.”

Planning Consultant Undaunted by Spruce House Denial

The Kitsap County Hearing Examiner has denied a conditional use permit application for Spruce House, a proposed three-story development in Manchester. Planning consultant William Palmer says his client, John Park of BJP LLC, Gig Harbor, will likely appeal the decision.
Some of the town’s residents were unhappy with the scale of the building, plans for which received preliminary approval before the 2007 Manchester Plan limited building heights to two stories. But Hearing Examiner Kimberly A. Allen, in her ruling Nov. 11, said the project meets requirements of the Kitsap County Comprehensive Plan and Kitsap County Code in effect at the time Park first applied.
Allen rejected the application on the basis of stormwater plans deemed inadequate by county staff, who testified at a public hearing Oct. 22.
Another problem stems from an easement dispute between Park and the owner of a neighboring property. The neighbor’s property encroaches on the Spruce House site, and the two parties are involved in a suit and countersuit.
Since the project is in legal limbo, Allen wrote, her hands are tied for ruling in favor of Park’s application.

Palmer, who typically withholds his opinion on land use rulings, weighed in on Manchester’s potential for development vis a vis the resistance of some residents to the size and scope of Spruce House and three other retail-residential projects grandfathered in at three stories.
“I still think Manchester is the place for the kind of development proposal that is represented in Colchester Commons, Spruce House and Frank Tweten’s Project,” said Palmer, adding The Anchors at Manchester to his thoughts. “ All four, if allowed to go forward, would make Manchester a really special place to be.
“Obviously there are some who like the run-down nature of the buildings in the area and would like to see it stay that way.”

Here’s a link to a story on the one three-story project that has been built in Manchester.

Three-Story Project in Manchester Comes Before Hearing Examiner

County development staff have withdrawn their support of the Spruce House project.
By Chris Henry
Manchester residents had their say Thursday on a three-story development project some claim is out of scale and character with the town. Critics of the project say plans to accommodate stormwater are inadequate and pose a danger of flooding from site run-off.
Spruce House, a 54,777 square-foot residential-retail complex, was the subject of a public hearing at the county administration building. The complex is proposed on a .53 acre site at the corner of Colchester Drive and Spruce Street in downtown Manchester.
Spruce House is one of four projects allowed at three stories before a revision of the Manchester Community Plan in 2007 limited building height in the downtown area to two stories. The Anchors at Manchester is the only one of the four that has been built.
Plans by Gig Harbor developer John Park of BJP LLC call for 11 condominium units on two stories above 7,455 square feet of retail-office space and 19 parking spaces on the ground floor. There’s also a 40-space underground parking garage.
Written testimony the county received in an earlier phase of permitting showed a number of residents displeased with the size and appearance of the building. An Oct. 12 report from the county’s Department of Community Development says Park has made adjustments to the design in response. But the report raises issues with stormwater treatment and landscaping in its recommendation against approval of the permit.
The DCD had earlier recommended approval of Park’s application, said Senior Planner Dennis Oost, but staff withdrew their support in November, 2008, when neighbors of the proposed project complained drainage from the site would be directed at their properties.
DCD contends Park’s current plans don’t meet the county’s requirement that 15 percent of the project area be covered in landscaping. And a neighbor, whose garage encroaches on the site said the design would block his access, Oost said.
Resident Carrilu Thompson testified that flooding is a problem in the town, which is at the bottom of a hillside.
Planning consultant William Palmer said his client has proposed several stormwater alternatives. The preferred design would be to collect run-off and direct it via underground pipes to a county-maintained manhole on Spruce Street. From there stormwater enters a pipe with direct discharge to Puget Sound.
The pipe passes through private property, and the owner will not give permission for its use, Palmer said. He argues that since the county once owned the property is has a historic right to use the pipe and so could grant Park permission to use it.
Project engineer Nels Rosendahl said the pipe would have enough capacity to handle the added run-off from the site, even in the event of a “hundred year storm.” But Douglas Frick, the county’s manager of development engineering, said his department has not yet verified the capacity of the pipe. Nor have possible problems created by additional flow at the pipe’s outfall been addressed, Frick said.
Palmer listed several other alternative plans, one of which would direct stormwater from the site to a nearby creek. Another alternative required Park to get permission from seven other property owners, which proved prohibitive, Palmer said.
On the issue of landscaping, Palmer argued the project more than satisfies the county’s 15 percent requirement. By including plantings on the building itself, the total landscaped area is 4,083 feet or about 17.7 percent of the total site area, he said.
The report submitted by Oost states landscaping on buildings should not be counted in the total. But Palmer said precent for doing so was set by the hearing examiner’s approval of another three-story project in Manchester. The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners overturned approval of Colchester Commons, but Park challenged that decision and prevailed on April 7 in Kitsap County Superior Court.
As for the easement issue, Park and his representatives are negotiating with the neighbor, who claims access to the site through historical use. They hope to come to a resolution, Palmer said. In the meantime, Park has filed suit to gain access. The neighbor has filed a counter suit.
The fourth three-story project, Manchester Place, at the corner of Spring and Main Street, is owned by Frank Tweten of Gig Harbor. He has until Oct. 6, 2011 to move forward before a preliminary permit on the project expires.

A Bird’s-Eye View of Walton’s Pond: Open Space in City Limits

Laurie Walton, the owner of a 10-acre property on Melcher Street, could be the first City of Port Orchard resident to receive a tax break through classification of her land as open space.

View Walton’s Pond in a larger map
Walton’s property, which she and her late husband Bob bought in 1972, is zoned for eight dwelling units per acre, but she wants to leave it undeveloped.
Walton’s is the first application to cross the city council’s path. The council will hold a public hearing and vote on her request May 26.
The city is likely to see more such applications as land within Port Orchard’s urban growth area becomes incorporated, said Development Director James Weaver. Walton’s case sets a procedural precedent for the city, he said.

The property includes five wooded acres with a pond and wetlands. Down the hill is another five-acre parcel of old pastureland, with a small pond frequented by ducks and frogs. Coyotes, deer and numerous birds are frequent visitors, according to Walton and her neighbors.
State law provides that, as a trade off for leaving the land as is, Walton’s property taxes would drop by 60 percent, more than $2,500, based on 2009 values and tax rates.

Walton welcomes the tax break, but it’s not just about the money, she said. As development in the neighborhood has occurred over the years, the property has become an oasis for wildlife and a place for neighborhood children to explore nature.
Walton plans to leave the property available to casual visitors and groups of school children, as she has in the past. She wants to dedicate ”Walton’s Pond” to Bob’s memory.

Read more later at – Do you know of parcels in the UGA? that might qualify for open space tax classification?

Blackjack Creek Trail System Revisited

Within the City of Port Orchard, the Blackjack Creek ravine is a world away from civilization. The creek drops through the watershed, shouldered by hillsides thick with vegetation and alive with bird song.

The city on Friday will submit applications for more than $100,000 in state grants that would be used to develop a trail system throughout the Blackjack Creek Wilderness.

Port Orchard drafted a plan for the area in 1987 — the Blackjack Creek Comprehensive Management Plan. The city is hoping to land $53,782 from the Washington State Regional Trails Program and $50,000 from the Washington State Land and Water Conservation program to see that plan to fruition, with help from community groups, businesses and developers.

Read more about the city’s plans for the watershed in a story to run Friday. Meanwhile, here’s a map to play with.

View Blackjack Creek in a larger map

Citizen Complains of Neighborhood’s Growing Pains

On Monday, I covered a closed record public hearing before the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners on the Ridgline development near Lake Emelia in South Kitsap. The proposed project, calling for 102 single family lots on 18.28 acres, is owned by local development investor and Planning Commission member Fred Depee .

The appellants, led by Lake Emelia residents Bill Simmons and Peter Boorman, have been fighting the proposal for two years, charging that storm water from the property would damage Lake Emelia and that the density would disturb wildlife and spoil the ambiance of the neighborhood.

The property, which Depee bought in 1994, was originally zoned urban reserve under the Kitsap County Comprehensive Plan, earmarked by the county for possible future up-zoning. During the 2006 comp plan revision, the zoning was changed to urban low residential, which allows four to nine units per acre. Ridgeline’s proposed density is 5.6 units per acre.

Some of the neighbors are chaffing at their lack of awareness of the potential for future development that existed in the 1990s under the urban reserve designation. At least one of them knew of it. The Kitsap County hearing examiner’s records show a letter to the county from resident Peter Boorman dated in 1996. But others, including Chris Lemke, say they weren’t aware that a zoning change was proposed for the area, nor its potential to change the look and feel of the neighborhood.

Lemke , who wrote a letter to the Kitsap Sun editor, complained at Monday’s meeting that the county should be more direct in alerting residents of areas where the urban growth area boundary could be extended. The county publishes notice of public hearings, on comp plan changes, and according to reporter Chris Dunagan, there was considerable press coverage of the 2006 Kitsap County Comp Plan update, as well as a page on the county’s Web site. But Lemke said, “When they extended the UGAs , I never got any notice of it. … Everything is on the side of the contractor right now.”

Depee has said his business depends on his ability to anticipate growth and invest in properties years, even decades before he can expect to a see a return.

In an earlier story, he said, “I can understand their concerns. Everyone fights growth. They’re afraid their rural living is being affected. But it’s not me who put the zoning in.

“I am a third-generation Kitsap County resident. If I had my choice, all of Kitsap would look and be like it was in the ’60s and ’70s when I was growing up. The powers to be, and time, have dictated the change to what it is and I make a living on these changes.”

Under the state’s Growth Management Act, growth is to be concentrated rather than sprawling. But changes in urban growth areas don’t happen without the population increase to support the expansion of the urban growth area, according to Dunagan. The comp plan is updated every 10 years, using updated state population estimates. Where UGA boundaries go is up to local government entities working through the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council. Potential growth is allocated according to how much each city is willing/able to handle. UGA boundaries are determined according to a list of criteria, such as where urban services are or will become available.

Lemke, in his testimony before the commissioners, said the county should go the extra mile to inform residents of impending zoning changes by including notice in annual property tax statements. What do you think?

Bethel Annex: One PDF Worth 1,000 Words

A couple of comments on today’s story indicated confusion. My apologies. Here’s a map that hopefully will help clarify what’s going with annexation of the Bethel Corridor.

Red = Sedgwick Bethel Annexation, nearly complete, includes the Fred Meyer sales tax revenue cherry on top.

Yellow and Green = Geiger Road Annexations, in the works

Purple = Geiger North, yet to come; this is the piece the county would like to see in place to create a less “illogical” boundary between city and unincorporated properties. The county is not rushing to let go of the revenue from these mostly commercial properties, but sees the annexation into Port Orchard as inevitable and logical according to the Growth Management Act. The revenue sharing agreement between cities and county calls for revenue sharing of 25/75 percent (city/county) the first year, 50/50 the second, 75/25 the third, before the county loses the revenue altogether. But, as Councilman John Clauson points out, the city assumes 100 percent of the responsibility the first year. Eric Baker, director of special projects for the county, said of this consequence of the interlocal agreement it’s understood that the jurisdiction assuming responsibility for an area won’t realize a net gain within the first few years.

Enough words, here’s the map (Courtesy City of Port Orchard)