Opinion

Picking up the county’s pieces

JUST JACK

The county commissioners are once again ready to address land use issues that will impact every person in the county. Don’t expect too much visibility on the issues as they proceed. Land use decisions are best made out of sight to avoid unfavorable reaction from those impacted.

Interim Rural Forest rules are up for consideration. The interim title is a bit of a misnomer since the process has been ongoing since Commissioner Josh Brown was in kindergarten. The apparent concern is how to prevent reasonable development of land zoned one house on 20 acres. Commissioner Brown is concerned the development will be too far away from fire and police services. Sorry Commissioner. Please look at a map of the county and current development. Commissioner Bauer is concerned allowing development would change the look of the county in the future. How is that “future impact” less desirable than forcing most of future development into urban growth areas at 4 to 29 homes per acre? Commissioner Garrido is concerned any action now would limit future options. Sorry, but I miss the underlying logic of that one. We already have a 20-year history of what the initial IRF decision has done and it is not working. Is it time for the commissioners to simply step back, allow the basic 1 in 20 zoning to work and not limit how the zoning is applied by the land owners?

On the same line, Commissioner Garrido and her husband have donated the use of property they own to the Master Gardeners to operate a vegetable garden. The Commissioner is able to make that generous offer through exercise of her rights to “enjoyable use,” “disposition,” and “access” for her property and we thank her for that generosity. Would it not be appropriate for Commissioner Garrido to allow every other property owner in the county to similarly exercise their rights to their property?

The Hood Canal Bridge project is going very well. Seems it might be done well ahead of schedule. That will be a major relief for those who need the bridge as a daily access route. It is interesting that while the bridge project will be finished in less than six weeks, the county continues to do a simple turn pocket revision at Anderson Hill and Apex/Dickey. With the number of on-site “supervisors” we can only wonder why it is taking so much time. Why is it when daylight lasts until about 10 p.m., road work has to stop at 4 in the afternoon? Is the county familiar with shift work? Same question applies for why the project is not worked on Saturday.

While the work on the Anderson Hill turnout is painfully slow, what is going on with the highly visible and “economic development critical” Waaga Way extension? There is a major effort underway to find a name for the new road but how about simply building it so the developers can get to work on their projects. The county already delayed the development effort for six months to create a “plan” the developers don’t want. If this project is any indication of our efficiency, there can be no wonder why we can’t get new roads built in the county.

The Port of Bremerton Commissioner and Bremerton Mayor races are beginning to get interesting. In both instances, incumbents who have approved major projects (along with major tax burdens) have opted out. Those seeking the offices will have to cope with significant debt in a declining economy. In Bremerton, the vacancy rate of downtown stores and buildings continues to be a major concern for “revitalization.” Enticing new business and new occupants for those spaces will be a major challenge. The “condo” crunch is not helping either the image or the desirability of locating downtown. For the Port, returning to the basic mission of “economic development” will be a major challenge. Turning attention to the airport as the economic engine for the Port and getting away from the continuing debate about SEED will be a good first step. Improving land arterial access (road and rail) to SKIA should be high on the list of near-term development objectives.

Jack Hamilton can be reached at gradiver@wavecable.com.

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