Focus on comp plan revisions

Every blockbuster adventure movie deserves a sequel. So after concluding the revision of the Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO), the Kitsap County Department of Community Development has immediately turned its focus toward the revision of its comprehensive plan, which is due by December.

“The comprehensive plan will outline our goals, polices and directions as to what we want the county to look for you over the next 20 years,” said DCD Director Cindy Baker.

Developing the CAO was a long, contentious process that included multiple public hearings and the involvement of the Kitsap County Planning Commission. The Comprehensive Plan will follow some of the same tracks and will determine the percentage of growth that will occur in urban areas as compared to rural areas.

Most of Kitsap County is rural, and a majority of new growth is best allocated in urban areas. The answer, according to some, is to expand the urban growth areas in order to accommodate the expected population increase.

“The county is not providing enough room for urban growth,” said William Palmer, a Port Orchard land planner and former DCD director. “They have nowhere near enough to handle the growth they want. And this will continue until they decide to make their own decisions.”

Palmer has voiced similar criticisms of the comprehensive plan since it was first implemented in 1998.

Palmer agrees with Baker that the comprehensive plan’s ratification will be less contentious than the CAO.

“If people find something in the comprehensive plan they don’t like, there is room for its modification,” Palmer said. “If you disagree with the CAO, you will have to take the county to court.”

Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners Executive Director Vivian Henderson expects that the comprehensive plan will set the stage for more conflict about property rights, although she declined to speculate about how this would manifest itself.

“This will be another battle,” she said. “All we can do is to help the commissioners understand the other side of the discussion and the impact of the decisions they make. They listen to the their staff and they listen to environmental groups, but they don’t always listen to property owners.”

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