County adopts emergency ordinance in response to Poulsbo sex offender housing

On Wednesday Kitsap County commissioners voted to approve an emergency ordinance instituting interim zoning restrictions for less restrictive alternative housing (LRA’s) for sex offenders.

In recent months an LRA located along Viking Avenue in Poulsbo has been the subject of public backlash, after nearby residents stated they received no prior notification in the siting process for the LRA.

Review by the Department of Community Development found that existing regulations do not define LRA facilities or mitigate their land use and life safety impacts. Under the interim regulations, LRA’s are defined as “Group Residential Facilities — Secured High Risk.”

The regulations also add a permitting and application review process which includes a required neighborhood meeting. Building code and life safety requirements are also incorporated into the interim regulations for Kitsap LRA’s, in addition to ensuring that existing siting requirements remain in adherence to state and local laws.

The emergency ordinance, said commissioner Rob Gelder is “effective immediately but cannot be retroactive in application.”

Per state law, interim regulations may remain in effect for 60 days after their adoption. This period can be extended to one year, provided a work plan is developed for related studies.

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<em>The City of Poulsbo recently voted to extend a ban on the development of high risk secure facilities, similar to the LRA which houses sex offenders on Viking Way.</em>
                                Nick Twietmeyer/ Kitsap News Group
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