SUQUAMISH — The Suquamish Tribe announced Wednesday it is appealing Kitsap County’s 10-year updated comprehensive plan with the Kitsap Citizens for Responsible Planning and Port Orchard resident Jerry Harless due to growth issues. Concerns arose over the impacts of proposed Urban Growth Areas within the tribal boundaries, and reviews were sent to the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board March 21.
The county plan was updated in December 2006, squeezing several years worth of work into just 10 months.
While the update was being designed, county officials sought input from as many local agencies as possible, but were limited in how many suggestions they could incorporate into the plan, said Kitsap County special projects manager Eric Baker. The county also hosted a series of nine public meetings and workshops between March 2006 and September 2006 to further this process.
The tribe, KCRP and Harless joined together in their appeal because of similar concerns about the plan. Their appeal cites nine legal concerns involving growth in rural areas, protecting wildlife corridors, archeological and cultural resources on non-tribal land within the Suquamish community and on ceded land, said Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman.
“All ceded lands are treaty reserves that we need to protect,” he said. “This also applies to non-tribal land within the Suquamish boundaries.”
Some of the acreage is on or near the tribe’s traditional fishing areas, protected wilderness and cultural locations, said tribal attorney Melody Allen. As written, the plan could allow encroachment on those sections with urban growth that would be out of place and destroy preserved habitat and burial ground, she said.
“The expansion of the UGAs is tied in with how the county looks at its population forecasts,” Allen said. She said the county’s proposed organization of the growth areas for Suquamish doesn’t fit with what the tribe is trying to preserve.
The appeal was no surprise.
“This was expected, they produced pre-briefs before submitting the appeal,” Baker said. “If the applicants are found to be correct, it could involve minor or substantial changes to the plan, depending on how the hearings board rules.”
Forsman and Allen both said the comprehensive plan utilizes the Urban Growth Areas inappropriately and violates Washington state’s Growth Management Act by proposing urban growth in rural areas. The tribe, along with the KCRP and Harless, are looking to preserve a certain way of life within the community, and feel the plan would adversely impact that standard.
“The staff took a reasonable approach to the plan and incorporated all the comments they could,” Baker said. “We feel this plan is within the bounds of the GMA.”
Allen said the process could take several months, and the tribe is unlikely to take any additional action against the comprehensive plan as the appeal covers all of its concerns. Baker said a final decision from the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board is expected by July.
“Well, I think we have a pretty strong presentation, but I can’t speculate on how it’s going to turn out,” Forsman said.