Letters to the Editor

Annexations

The mayor shares her viewpoint

On Wednesday evening the Poulsbo City Council voted to deny two annexation petitions submitted for property in the area west of Viking Avenue. This is the first time that I can recall the Council denying requests for annexation. Therefore, I believe it is important to encapsulate the reasons stated by myself and the City Council for the decision to deny these petitions.

First, it has become apparent over time that many who oppose annexation do so based on inaccurate information. I base this on both verbal and written statements received by City staff and Councilmembers. To mitigate this unfortunate situation and ensure the City’s existing and future residents have accurate information, the City is preparing an “Annexation Fact and Myth” pamphlet. Our goal is to ensure people have unbiased information about the process.

Second, while annexation petitions come in all sizes and shapes, we have come to realize that the larger the annexed area, the more efficient and effective the City’s planning effort for that area will be. Providing infrastructure and services to newly annexed areas is more efficient when the area is of a fairly large size. This allows for economies of scale and a more holistic approach versus planning in an incremental fashion. These efforts cost taxpayers money and therefore, it is in all of our best interests to plan and develop areas in the most economical way possible.

Third, taking a comprehensive approach to utility and service delivery in newly annexed areas affords the opportunity to develop infrastructure that adds environmental safeguards to the City’s already compliant environmental regulations.  For example, a cost efficient gravity sewer force main instead of a series of high tech pump stations, that are costly to maintain and potentially subject to malfunction, affords more protection to our sensitive areas.

Fourth, and finally, the denial of these two annexations allows the City to complete the functional plans (water, sanitary sewer and stormwater) that will guide the delivery of infrastructure and services to newly annexed areas. Without these plans in place the “tail is wagging the dog.”  We expect these plans to be completed and ready for public review toward the end of May.

Although many left the meeting disappointed that no testimony was taken and the annexations were denied, I must acknowledge the Council’s courage to make this extremely difficult decision to protect the City and its residents from poorly planned and costly development. I hope they will come to understand and appreciate the Council’s decision to support the City’s responsibility for its future.

Kathryn Quade,

Mayor of Poulsbo

Hansville

It’s time to

come together

Hansville, as a community, has experienced a great division in this previously tight knit community – over the installation of speed bumps. A community-based representative process was started over two years ago to address some serious road and pedestrian safety issues in Hansville. This process was the result of a meeting in which our community came together in-force to demand safety improvements from within itself, and from the county. Initially this process was just that, a community-wide representative group of local citizens working together with the express goal of identifying, prioritizing, and creating community accepted and supported solutions to a list of road safety issues. Sadly, over time, the committee that was formed to carry out this process devolved from a representative community group, to a group that was narrowly focused on the needs and wants of two specific neighborhood areas in Hansville. The “devolved” group chose to exercise its collective power over the process that others had started… ending what had started as a truly open collective community-wide public process. This group sought to maintain the appearance of community representation while actually acting only upon the wants and needs of the few … and they used their power over process to push through a speed bumps plan that they knew as they planned it would create considerable public opposition. The outcome was the actualization of a road safety plan that many feel created more safety problems than it solved for the community, and which created a fire-storm of anger in a large segment of the community. This anger became organized, and a Web site was created which became the voice for that anger. Initially this Web site started out providing a fairly positive means for the public to join together in a community process which allowed opposition to the bumps to organize, share their concerns, and strategize an action plan.

From it, another “anti-bumps” group was formed led by the Web site organizer. Anti-bumps petitions were signed and a case was made that a lot of folks were very upset and wanted resolution to the “bumps problem.” Sadly, as time passed, this group and the Web site that represents it, became dominated by a very outspoken few, who again have come to put power over process … creating and encouraging a destructive interaction between members of the community on both sides of the issue. The newly formed GHAAC might have provided leadership to resolve this issue, but as a new untested organization, it lacked the experienced leadership and recognition in the community to do so. Things were looking pretty gloomy in our once happy little community. Suddenly, Steve Bauer, who originally had sided with the pro-bumps plan, has stepped forward and put his own personal bias aside, offering leadership providing reasonable options which may, if supported and accepted by the community at large, lead to a reasonable resolution of the safety and inter-neighbor problems Hansville now faces. Thank you Steve for recognizing the seriousness of this issue, and stepping forward to provide a means to resolve what only can be described as an unpleasant mess in a wonderful little town.

Neal Kellner,

Hansville