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Woodland out of the woods
"As one controversial island housing development neared the finish line, another cleared its initial hurdle.Last Friday, a Kitsap County judge rejected challenges to the 27-home Woodland Village development on Ferncliff Avenue. Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Leonard Kruse ruled last week that the city acted properly when it approved the project.In so doing, he may have ended a multi-year battle over the project's density.We're disappointed in the ruling, said Ferncliff Drive resident Lois Andrus, who appealed the city's go-ahead along with the East Central Bainbridge Island Community Association.We'll have to review the decision with our attorney to see where we go from here, she said, indicating that no decision had been made about whether to press a further appeal.Developer Doug Nelson said he was pleased with the outcome.I can be appreciative of where the other side is coming from, Nelson said. They are trying to make the island a better place to live, and so are we. We just have different ideas on how to do that.Andrus and ECBICA contended on appeal that the city improperly allowed Nelson to include the wetland portions of the 10-acre tract when he calculated the number of units he could build.Kruse did not address that argument in his decision, ruling that the opponents did not present enough factual support to warrant judicial review. He said that only arguments that the opponents did properly present had to do with whether the city followed proper procedures, and he held that it had done so.Nelson had already made a big-dollar gamble on a favorable court ruling by starting work three weeks ago on extending sewer and water lines north on Ferncliff to the property at his own expense.Had the court ruled against the project, Nelson would not have been able to recover those expenses.Meanwhile, the Fort Ward Parade Grounds proposal - a 22-home development that would create a 2.6-acre park in the center of the historic district - cleared its first hurdle last week when the city determined that no environmental impact statement is required.The project, proposed by the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority, would cluster homes on the five-acre site between Parkview Drive and Evergreen Avenue east of Fort Ward Hill Road. Six of the units would be affordable homes.In a decision last Friday, Planning Director Stephanie Warren ruled that the project would not have a significant impact on the environment if certain mitigation measures are pursued. That decision clears the way for a public hearing, which Hearing Examiner Robin Baker, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. on January 26 at an as-yet unspecified location. Baker will consider all objections to the plan - environmental and otherwise - and make a recommendation to the city council, which will make a final decision at a regularly scheduled meeting.Opponents of the development - a group calling itself the Historic Fort Ward Parade Grounds Association - have not focused on environmental issues. They have objected to certain zoning waivers that have allowed the cluster plan, arguing that any homes in the neighborhood should conform to the same covenants as the existing homes.They have also vociferously objected to the inclusion of affordable housing, claiming it would detract from their property values.Neither of the opposition group's two identified members could be reached for comment. Their attorney, Stuart Ainsley, declined to comment without talking to his clients first.If the written comments in the city's project file gauge neighborhood sentiment, it appears that the project is popular.Eleven of those commenting favored the plan, commending the park feature, the willingness of the KCCHA to work with the neighborhood and the opportunities that will be created for moderate-income families to live on the island.Three neighbors submitted adverse comments, but one of them said she was not opposed to the project as a whole, only to certain details. She is not a member of the opposition group. "