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City assuages shore dwellers -- News Roundup

Neither current nor proposed shoreline regulations would force people to move their homes away from the shoreline, nor prevent them from rebuilding or repairing their homes, city officials told an overflow crowd at a Thursday workshop.

While homes within a designated shoreline buffer – 50 feet wide in most places under current regulations – would be defined as “non-conforming,” they could remain where they are permanently under rules that apply to the shorelines, City Attorney Rod Kaseguma said.

Non-conforming homes that are destroyed could be rebuilt within their footprint, even if they are voluntarily demolished by their owner, he said. And in most instances, homes can be expanded vertically.

What owners cannot do is “increase the nonconformity” by moving further into the buffer.

“You can go up, or sideways, or back, but you can’t go farther into the buffer,” he said.

One proposed policy, which called for non-conforming uses to be phased out over time, has not received the backing of the Planning Commission, chairman Sean Parker said.

“The technical committee recommended that, but we did not agree,” he said.

The workshop on non-conforming uses was the conducted by the Bainbridge Planning Commission on controversial aspects of the city’s Shoreline Master Program.

The next workshop will deal with the highly contentious issue of “native vegetation zones.”

Under both existing and proposed regulations, shoreline buffers are supposed to be planted with “native” vegetation. Some members of the city planning staff have said those regulations would be interpreted as requiring trees to be planted, provoking an outcry from shoreline dwellers concerned about the loss of views.

The workshop will begin at 6 p.m. Nov. 14 in the council chambers.

– John Waldo

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***Wood Avenue project OK’d

The Bainbridge Island Planning Commission Thursday recommended approval of the Wood Avenue Townhome project, on a one-acre site on the corner of West Winslow Way and Wood Avenue.

As proposed by developer Rod McKenzie, the plan calls for eight two-bedroom apartments in four buildings along Winslow Way, and seven two-story townhomes along Wood Avenue.

The only suggested changes were to add either pedestrian amenities such as benches, or park-like amenities such as a play area to open space on the northwest corner of the land, city planner Bob Katai said.

Work could begin next March, and will take about a year, architect Charles Wenzlau said.

– John Waldo

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