Critical Areas Ordinance draft update to get public input from Kitsap residents

PORT ORCHARD — Kitsap County will host a series of informational open houses over the next two weeks to update residents about the draft Critical Areas Ordinance.

The ordinance is undergoing a required update under the Washington Growth Management Act (CAO). Also known as Kitsap County Code, Title 19, the CAO is the portion of local code that provides development standards for protecting the environment and minimizing risk to human safety.

Those critical areas listed in the ordinance include wetlands; fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas; geologically hazardous areas; frequently flooded areas; and critical aquifer recharge areas.

The open houses are at these locations:

South Kitsap: Tuesday, March 28, 4-6:30 p.m.

Commissioners Chambers, Kitsap County Administration Building, 619 Division St., Port Orchard.

Central Kitsap: Thursday, March 30, 4-6:30 p.m.

Eagles Nest, Kitsap County Fairgrounds, 1195 NW Fairgrounds Rd., Bremerton.

A meeting already has been hosted March 23 in Kingston.

Following this initial opportunity to comment, there will be additional chances to provide input leading up to the county planning commission hearings in late April or early May.

Adoption of the updated ordinance is scheduled to take place by June 30, according to county spokesman Doug Bear.

Meanwhile, members of the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners (KAPO), led by Michael Gustavson, have submitted recommendations to the planning commission that they say improve the county’s critical areas ordinance.

“The 2005 version of the CAO encumbers about 95 percent of the parcels in the county with an average of five layers of ‘criticality’ on each parcel,” Gustavson said.

“Some parcels have as many as 12 critical area issues, each of which requires a specialist to resolve before a building permit is issued. KAPO’s position is many of the critical area buffers are excessive and are not justified by science or recent court cases.”

Gustavson said his organization believes the draft ordinance requires additional updating to “incorporate scientific developments and court decisions that have occurred since the current document was approved (on) Dec. 5, 2005.”

He acknowledged that a number of suggestions he and others have suggested last June have been included in the draft document.

According to KAPO’s submittal to the planning commission on Feb. 14, the ordinance as currently proposed includes only a purpose statement for protecting critical areas as defined by the Growth Management Act’s requirement of “no net loss of functions and values.” Gustavson said the county document doesn’t include benchmarks of baseline functions and values.

“The document has no mechanism for assessing ‘no net loss,” the organization asserts in its submittal.

“In the case of endangered and threatened species (primarily salmon), there is neither measure of baseline populations, nor objective population goals,” KAPO’s recommendations document stated.

“Thus, there is no way to measure harm or progress in either a water quality monitoring program or a salmon habitat monitoring program, as required by the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community’s … 2007 Growth Management Hearings Board decision.”

KAPO’s recommendations document also includes changes that it said would clarify and specify policy goals, and revamp the county’s policy on code violation disputes and compliance procedures.

Kitsap County has more information about the critical areas ordinance draft update at http://bit.ly/2mQXQTM.

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