Opinion

City administration welcomes SKIA discussion

FROM THE MAYOR

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about a potential annexation request to the city of Bremerton from the Port of Bremerton and some adjoining property owners for specific parcels located in the South Kitsap Industrial Area (SKIA) which is designated as an Urban Growth Area (UGA). I want to take this opportunity to express the position of the city administration on this subject.

The Washington state Growth Management Act (GMA) sets a framework and direction for coordinated and efficient growth of communities. Under the GMA counties establish Urban Growth Areas (UGAs) wherein population and employment is expected to be concentrated over time.

All cities are inside of UGAs, and the unincorporated (county) portions of UGAs are expected to transition to urban jurisdictions over time. UGAs should eventually be provided urban levels of service and infrastructure and should have an urban intensity of development. This allows for areas outside of UGAs to remain rural or resource lands and ensures protection of the state’s natural environment.

Kitsap County initially designated the SKIA UGA more than a decade ago. Generally speaking, state law permits and encourages cities to annex into UGAs adjacent to their boundaries. The SKIA UGA is adjacent to only one city, Bremerton.

The city of Bremerton has been approached by certain property owners including the Port of Bremerton who hold land in a portion of the SKIA UGA that is immediately adjacent to the existing city of Bremerton boundary. They are seeking information and exploring whether it is in their best interests to request an annexation to the city.

The city has considered this an area of potential growth for Bremerton for some time and welcomes this expression of interest in potentially annexing to the city.

The administration of the city has provided timely and responsive follow-ups to the inquiries that have been made in order to assist them in this consideration.

It should be noted however that the city is not initiating this dialogue — nor driving it to any specific conclusion. If the respective property owners see enough potential value in annexing to the city that they submit a petition for annexation — then the city of Bremerton will then undertake a thorough analysis and consideration of such a request itself.

There have been preliminary analysis of potential annexations within this area prepared at various times by the city — as recently as January of 2007 — and while they showed potential positive impacts they were not the kind of thorough and careful review that would be warranted before the city would actually act to approve such a request. Providing urban services and infrastructure is a significant financial commitment and responsibility. We take those responsibilities seriously. The city will need to determine if such a commitment is in the mutual best interest of all parties concerned.

Annexation is contingent on both property owner support and must be approved by City Council as being in the best interest of the city. We think this is a worthwhile matter to consider and welcome the expressed interest by the respective land owners. When (and if) a petition for annexation is received the city administration will apply energy to considering the matter more fully.

Cary Bozeman is the mayor of the city of Bremerton.

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