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?

One thought on “Citizen Complains of Neighborhood’s Growing Pains

  1. “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?”

    That is exactly what the county should do/ city too. Why would the county quibble over the inexpensive decency of giving important zoning changes and information to folks affected by such changes?

    Please place my vote for it … my computer can’t do it.
    Sharon O’Hara

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