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Island growth bill approved

A bill that would allow Bainbridge to limit growth in areas of limited groundwater earned approval in the state Legislature this week.

Sponsored by Rep. Sherry Appleton, House Bill 1135 now goes before the governor for final approval.

“Bainbridge Island is like no other city in our state,” said the Poulsbo Democrat. “This legislation will give local officials another tool to help better plan for growth.”

Bainbridge is geographically the fourth largest city in the state and draws all of its water supply from underground water sources. It is equivalent in size to New York’s Manhattan Island, but with a population of just under 23,000. Zoned entirely as an urban growth area, Bainbridge could potentially absorb a significant amount of residential development.

HB 1135 would allow qualifying island cities, such as Bainbridge, to designate one or more aquifer conservation zones to conserve and protect potable water sources.

Over the last year, 110 new single family home permits were issued on Bainbridge as more people relocated west of Seattle.

Rep. Christine Rolfes, who co-sponsored the measure, said she became well acquainted with the pressures of growth on the island's water supply as a Bainbridge city councilwoman.

“Bainbridge Island is trying to balance urban density and aquifer protection," the Bainbridge Democrat said. "This bill will allow the city to accept required growth while protecting our water supply for future generations.”

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