Mayor Greg Wheeler of Bremerton stated last week that he “strongly opposes” the current proposal that could allow housing for high-risk Level III sexually violent predators in the Central Kitsap area.
Kitsap County adopted interim regulations Feb. 6 that allow this housing type in all commercial zoning districts near Bremerton, as well as Port Orchard, Silverdale and Kingston.
The county’s code changes will affect neighborhoods around Gorst, Navy Yard City, Perry Avenue Mall and areas along the State Route 303 corridor near Fred Meyer, Lowes and Walmart. These neighborhoods are home to several schools including Mountain View Middle School, West Hills STEM Academy, West Sound Tech and Renaissance High School.
“I am writing a comment letter on behalf of the City that strongly opposes the current proposal, and I am urging the county to create regulations that keep violent sex offenders away from our neighborhoods and schools,” Wheeler said in a statement last week. “I hope that you will join me in sharing your concerns that Kitsap County should not allow housing for high-risk sexually violent offenders in Bremerton neighborhoods.
“These locations will greatly impact Bremerton in a higher proportion than any other community in Kitsap,” he said.
According to the Kitsap County Department of Community Development, there were no local regulations for where these types of facilities could be located prior to this ordinance. The temporary ordinance is considered a starting point to ensure neighborhood compatibility when considering the placement of less restrictive alternative (LRA) group homes in Kitsap County.
The DCD will develop a final code over the next six months for the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners to consider and the public is encouraged to participate throughout the process. The board will have a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 25, at the Commissioners Chambers in Port Orchard to accept public comment. The projected timeline to adopt, deny or defer the final ordinance could come between June and August, according to the Department of Community Development.
Ways for members of the public to participate in the process are by:
- Visiting the Kitsap County website to provide a comment (choose the drop-down menu “Interim Zoning: Group Residential Facility – Secured High Risk”)
- Contacting Liz Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org 0r 360-337-5777
Tyler Shuey is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at email@example.com