"Despite challenge, Woodland gears upA court hearing won't delay sewer work on Ferncliff Ave. "
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:21 PM
"Although a court challenge to the proposed Woodland Village development will not be heard until next week, developer Doug Nelson is beginning this week to install sewer and water service to the property.The action reflects both Nelson's confidence that the subdivision's approval will be upheld, and his unwillingness to let opponents dictate the project schedule.I've been delayed for four years, Nelson said Monday. It's time to move forward.Since the project's inception, Nelson has been battling the East Central Bainbridge Island Community Association over the 27-lot subdivision planned for a 9.4 acre parcel on Ferncliff Avenue, a quarter-mile north of High School Road.The Bainbridge Island City Council approved the subdivision application in April. ECBICA then filed suit in Kitsap County Superior Court asking that the approval be reversed. The neighborhood group's principal claim is that the city improperly included wetlands in density calculations for the tract, and thereby allowed too many houses to be built.A hearing on the appeal is scheduled for Monday in Superior Court.I think the reality is that in some fashion, Woodland Village will go forward, Nelson said. But if it does not, then the water and sewer lines, which Nelson will install at his own expense, will be available to anyone who may purchase the property. The sewer extension will link up with the city sewer system, and will become city property. He's taking a calculated risk, said Vince Mattson of the Murden Cove Preservation Association, a member of ECBICA. I'm assuming that if the judge rules against his project, he would come in with a revised plan later on.The construction work will last from three weeks to a month, Nelson said. Crews will work initially on Ferncliff north of High School Road, and will not work on the intersection of those streets until construction is finished on Winslow Way East, adjacent to the ferry terminal.During the Winslow Way reconstruction, traffic leaving the ferry terminal is being routed north on Ferncliff, turning the Ferncliff-High School intersection into a major bottleneck as much of the ferry traffic turns left at the four-way stop to get back to Highway 305.We want to minimize the inconvenience as much as possible, Nelson said.Installing the water and sewer lines now will render moot, at least in part, ECBICA's proposed change in the city's comprehensive plan to prevent extension of city sewer service north of High School Road.In September, the group requested an amendment to the plan's Water Resource Element to limit the extension of sewer service, and specifically to provide that no extension of the sewer service area shall be provided to accommodate speculative development ventures.City Administrator Lynn Nordby said that the city code makes no distinction between sewer service installed by developers and service installed by the city. If the requested change were in place, Nordby said, it would have prevented Nelson's sewer installation.It could be that he's trying to beat the proposed amendment, Mattson said of Nelson's sewer extension.The availability of sewer service will have no impact on adjacent property owners, Nordby said, dismissing the concerns of critics who have maintained that when sewer is installed, all property owners will be required to connect to it.If their septic systems are working properly, they can continue to use those systems, he said. If there is a failure, the health department may require hooking up to the sewer system.But it's not our policy to make anybody do anything they don't want to do. "