Racetrack Zoning to Shift into Reverse?

The county commissioners will hold a hearing in June to determine whether zoning for a racetrack should be repealed.

By Chris Henry, chenry@kitsapsun.com
May 15, 2007

Port Orchard Kitsap County Board of Commissioners on Monday voted 2-1 to settle a legal challenge with two groups opposed to a zoning provision that would have paved the way for a NASCAR track in South Kitsap.

A hearing is now planned for June, and legal challenges will be dropped if the zoning is repealed.

The Sunlink.com
The zoning, called an Industrial Multi-Purpose Recreation Area, or IMPRA, applies to 950 acres near the Bremerton National Airport and was meant to support a proposed NASCAR track or other major development. It was often referred to as a “place holder” in the event NASCAR became a reality here.

The Coalition for Healthy Economic Choices in Kitsap (CHECK) and the Kitsap Citizens for Responsible Planning appealed the zoning to the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board. Now that a legislative bill that would have helped build a speedway for NASCAR events is dead, some say it is appropriate to let the zoning revert to what it was.

The settlement agreement calls for the county to hold a public hearing, now scheduled for June, to determine if the IMPRA designation should be repealed.

Land owner David Overton, who stood to gain from the zoning, was upset with the proceedings and complained that he wasn’t involved in negotiations toward the settlement.

Overton, who said he only learned of the proposed settlement agreement May 3, asked the commissioners for a two-week extension so further discussion could take place with stakeholders.

South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel favored Overton’s request, saying a dialogue with all interested parties was in order.

“This is a very important area for the entire county,” Angel said. “We need to not take it lightly.”

Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown agreed there needs to be a comprehensive discussion of the whole South Kitsap Industrial Area. But, he said, it would be inappropriate to delay the issue — and run up legal costs — over what amounted to a temporary land-use designation that is now a moot point.

North Kitsap Commissioner Chris Endresen, who will be vacating her seat at the end of June to head up U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell’s state office, was outspoken in her criticism of the interim zoning. Endresen said that people lose faith when governments make hasty zoning improvisations such as the IMPRA.

“I can’t even think of a polite way to say it,” she said. “It’s that we were trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes.”

Angel voted against the agreement; Brown and Endresen voted for it.

Outside the commissioners’ chambers, Overton, on the verge of tears, needed a moment to compose himself.

“I think all I’d say is that we’re sorry the county chose to do these actions behind closed doors and to not partner with a family that’s had an investment in the county since 1920,” Overton said.

He added that he has potential investors interested in his family’s property. But the loss of NASCAR and now the likely reversion of zoning will be a disincentive for them to locate in Kitsap County.

Asked if he had further comment, Overton said, “Nothing you can print.”

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