Kitsap OKs law to downzone 14 parcels of Royal Valley Farm

Kitsap County commissioners approved an ordinance Monday to downzone 14 parcels south of Keyport to preserve the natural environment and critical areas.

It also makes any potential development more consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.

County documents say Community Development received an application from Royal Valley Farm owner Lillian Ross in January. The rezoned area represents about 37 acres of the overall 154-acre farm owned by the Ross family for over 50 years. The farm is located near Paulson Road and Central Valley Road.

The property was added to the Urban Growth Area in 2012. That year it was zoned “senior living homestead,” which allowed up to nine dwelling units per acre but specifically for people age 55 and older. In 2016, the zoning changed to Urban Cluster Residential. Now, upon its conversion to Urban Restricted, the required density is up to five dwelling units per acre. The proposed rezone does not include any current development proposals.

UR zones are applied to areas within urban growth areas that have been identified with a “significant concentration of critical areas…or are planned as greenbelts, and are therefore appropriate for lower-density development,” the hearing examiner’s report says. Areas may include salmon-spawning streams, wetlands and/or steep slopes.

“An intended result of the rezone is to preserve the natural environmental features and existing character along NE Paulson Road, which transitions to the north to parcels zoned rural,” the hearing examiner’s report states. “The downzone would remove some existing development pressure in the area…Another intended result of the downzone is to protect multiple critical areas adjacent to the project area.”

Documents say the proposed rezone area is surrounded by three fish-bearing streams: Crouch to the north and east, Nadean to the south and Royal Valley offsite to the west.

“Mature vegetation and some slopes are present directly adjacent to streams, but the property is otherwise flat with grasses and farmland,” documents say.

The rezoning criteria are as follows:

1. Rezone is consistent with Comprehensive Plan.

2. Rezone will not adversely affect surrounding community.

3. Rezone bears substantial relationship to public health, safety or welfare of the community

4. Rezone a) responds to substantial change in conditions applicable to the area within which the subject property lies; b) better implements applicable Comprehensive Plan policies than the current map designation; c) corrects an obvious mapping error.

A public hearing was held in September. On Oct. 1 the hearing examiner recommended approval, concurring with county staff. Monday, the commission passed the ordinance.