"Groups bid to curb sewers, growth"
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:14 PM
"Three citizens groups have proposed an amendment to the city's comprehensive plan, to sharply curtail the conditions under which sewer service could be expanded.In so doing, the groups hope to slow the rate of population growth in areas outside Winslow.But the city's planning staff has recommended against the change, saying that the resulting growth restrictions would violate state law.The proposal goes against the Growth Management Act, said associate planner Libby Hudson. It uses (an absence of) sewer extension as a way to limit growth rather than zoning for densities.The comprehensive plan currently envisions extending city sewer service into the area east of Highway 305 and south of the intersection of Sportsman Club Road and the highway.The affected areas, which presently do not have sewer service, are along Ferncliff Avenue, on the south side of Murden Cove, and south along Grand Avenue to Wing Point Way.The East Central Bainbridge Island Community Association and the Murden Cove Preservation Association want that policy changed. The amendment they propose would delete the existing references to those areas as future service areas. The proposed amendment would allow the sewer service area to be enlarged only upon a showing of community need, which would be determined according to an unspecified process. But the amendment would specifically prohibit service extensions to accommodate speculative development, meaning any subdivision.The city is leaning over backwards to add density outside of Winslow, said Vince Mattson of the Murden Cove Preservation Association.Sewer is an integral part of that, he said, because where sewers are available, building lots can be as small as 5,000 square feet. Where septic systems are used, though, the minimum lot size is 12,500 square feet.Mattson cited the example of Woodland Village, the 30-lot subdivision on a 9.4-acre tract off Ferncliff. The city approved that subdivision application by allowing developer Doug Nelson to cluster the homes an small lots, served by sewer.Without sewer, you could only build on five acres there because of wetlands, Mattson said. If you had only five acres, you could only put 13 homes there.ECBICA, of which Mattson is a member, is appealing in district court the city's approval of Woodland Village. Mattson says that limiting growth is not the only reason for preferring septic systems to sewers. He claims that septic-system discharge, purified by percolation through the soil, recharges local aquifers, adding to the city's water resources.Extending sewer service would have a decided impact in the future on the island's potable water supply, Mattson said.The amendment was one of three changes proposed during the annual window for such submissions. After receiving staff input, the Bainbridge Island Planning Commission will propose those submissions, if any, that in thinks warrant further study. That list, in turn, will be submitted to the city council.At this stage, council approval is basically an exercise in setting an agenda. Any submissions will undergo public hearings.The annual amendment process is not to be confused with the full-blown comprehensive-plan review, which Washington state law requires every five years. Bainbridge's five-year review is currently in the planning stages.But planning commission member Darlene Kordonowy said because the two coincide in time this year, there may be no reason for the commission to consider this year's proposed amendments separately from those issues raised in the more comprehensive review. One of the other two proposed amendments would be growth-limiting, but on a small scale. The Fort Ward Neighborhood Association submitted a proposal to reduce the number of units that could be built in the historic Building 16 on Fort Ward Hill Road to five units, down from the eight.The third amendment would add language to the comprehensive plan to call for increased use of what are called integrated pest management techniques in order to reduce the use of biocides, pesticides and herbicides. That proposal is sponsored by city council members Christine Nasser, Michael Pollock and Merrill Robison.The planning commission will have a study session Thursday on the proposed amendments. Commissioners will hear staff reports and ask questions of the staff, but no public comment will be received.A public hearing on the amendments will take place after public notice, likely at the commission's October meeting, commissioner Kordonowy said. "