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New clearing law proposed -- News Roundup

The Bainbridge Island City Council tonight will introduce an ordinance that would prohibit unpermitted clearing of areas bigger than 1,000 square feet.

Currently, there are no limits on the clearing of underbrush or trash trees like alders, and no limits on logging up to 5,000 board feet of merchantable timber, according to city planning staffer Steve Morse.

“We are concerned about erosion control and critical areas,” Morse said. “People aren’t allowed to clear in critical areas, but they may not realize they have them on their property.”

The ordinance would exempt most clearing done for gardening purposes, and would apply principally to work done using heavy machinery such as bulldozers and backhoes.

It would also not apply to emergencies, or removal of dead or dying trees.

Nor would the ordinance apply to clearing done after receiving planning department approval of a site plan or building permit, because erosion control and protection of critical areas are already provided for in those permitting processes.

The exemption for clearing of 1,000 square feet or less is subject to discussion, Morse said.

“That’s the number King County and Bellevue use, but other jurisdictions use bigger numbers,” he said.

“This is what we are throwing out on the table for discussion purposes.”

– John Waldo

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***Park funding drive outlined

Efforts to turn the 55-acre Wyckoff property on Bill Point into a Japanese American memorial and public park gathered a few more recruits Monday evening, at a public meeting in which backers outlined a strategy to raise $8 million to purchase the site.

Most of the funds for the Joel Pritchard Park/Japanese American Memorial Acquisition Project – a projected $6 million – would be raised from public sources, organizers said, with the remainder coming from a private fund-raising campaign slated to kick off this summer.

Council member Christine Nasser Rolfes, chair of the committee that has enlisted local legislators to the cause, said they are “cautiously optimistic” about recent efforts to solicit some $4 million in state funding. The Legislature is due to consider draft budgets later this month.

“If there’s money for projects, this is one everyone (in Olympia) is very supportive of,” Nasser Rolfes said.

The remainder of the public funds would come from federal and local government, including $500,000 in open space money already pledged by the city.

The Trust for Public Lands, a national nonprofit conservation group, has taken the lead in public fund-raising efforts, and will act as the immediate purchaser of the property.

Under an agreement negotiated with the property trustee and due to be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency – the beneficiary of any property sale – by the end of the month, the acquisition team will have until the close of 2004 to raise about half of the $8 million appraised price, said Kent Whitehead of the TPL. The city would then have an additional two years to raise the balance.

To enlist public support for the project, Whitehead and Nasser-Rolfes presented a community outreach plan, which included a letter-writing campaign timed to reach public officials at budget time, and public tours of the site.

Several attendees volunteered to identify prospective donors, develop a website and enlist the support of other island organizations for the campaign.

– Kathryn Haines

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***Foot-ferry bill picks up speed

A measure sponsored allowing Kitsap Transit to provide foot-ferry service in Puget Sound cruised through the Senate Highways and Transportation Committee in Olympia last week.

Now the measure, closely watched by transit officials and the Kitsap legislative delegation, is in the Senate Rules Committee.

Sen. Bob Oke (R-Port Orchard) hopes it will soon move to the floor for a vote.

“The boat is sinking, we have to move forward. If we lose this round, the disruption in people’s lives will be enormous,” said Oke, a bill sponsor.

Washington State Ferries officials announced the plan to discontinue passenger-only ferry service in the Puget Sound June 15 as a cost-savings measure. The plan affects commuters on the Bremerton-Seattle foot ferry and the traffic on the Southworth-Vashon to Seattle route.

The citizen-based state Transportation Commission last month approved WSF’s plan.

The Senate bill opens the door for Kitsap Transit to pursue its passenger-only ferry plan. The project would put foot ferries at Kingston, Bremerton and Southworth, pending voter approval this fall and approval of a potential sales tax and motor vehicle excise tax.

“Ferries are our roads,” said Oke in a prepared statement. “Ferry service has always been considered part of our state highway system. The Legislature is obligated to do everything possible to allow this service to continue.”

In the House, a companion measure – sponsored by most of the Kitsap delegation, including Reps. Phil Rockefeller (D-Bainbridge Island), Beverly Woods (R-Poulsbo), Kathy Haigh (D-Shelton) and Pat Lantz (D-Gig Harbor) – had a hearing last Wednesday.

– Amy Crumley

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***PAWS names new officers

Coming off what members called their most successful year ever, the Progressive Animal Welfare Society of Bainbridge Island recently elected officers and set goals for the coming year.

Spaying and neutering will continue to be the emphasis for the animal welfare organization, according to Judy Hartstone, elected to her sixth term as president of the nonprofit organization.

Also returned to office were islanders Elena Fox as vice-president and Megan Bischoff as secretary, and Kingston resident Shaun Stephenson as treasurer. Islanders Annette Stollman and Priscilla Zimmerman round out the board of directors.

In 2002, PAWS paid for or assisted with the cost of sterilizing 312 pets from Bainbridge and North Kitsap through its program, “For the Health of Your Pet, For the Health of Your Community.” That was up from 271 the previous year.

PAWS received grants from game show host Bob Barker’s DJ&T Foundation and the New Jersey-based Bernice Barbour Foundation to aid the local organization’s fight against pet overpopulation.

“We will be doing even more outreach this year,” said Hartstone, who said that since the inception of its assistance program in 1998, PAWS has spayed or neutered 1,157 pets.

Marylou Zimmerman of Poulsbo will continue coordinating the cat adoption program which last year found new homes for 297 homeless or relinquished cats and kittens.

Zimmerman said her major need is for many more foster homes.

Since PAWS does not have a shelter in which to house animals, all cats and kittens are cared for in foster homes prior to adoption.

In addition to maintaining the organization’s programs for veterinary assistance, pet adoption, and pet lost-and-found, PAWS plans to more actively promote responsible pet ownership throughout the communities it serves.

PAWS, which operates solely through private grants and donations, is looking for people who would like to help further animal welfare awareness in the area. Call 842-2451.

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***Slaughter brings basket skills

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Bainbridge History Series presents Mary Lou Slaughter, great-granddaughter of Chief Sealth, at 2 p.m. March 30 at Island Center Hall.

Slaughter was born in 1938, great-granddaughter of the Native American chief after whom Seattle was named. She is of the Duwamish people who have no land base and no federal recognition.

She grew up in Manette when it wasn’t popular to be of Indian heritage. It wasn’t until her son became a woodcarver that she decided to validate his heritage by embracing her own. She took her great-grandmother’s Indian name in 1996.

Her basket weaving has now taken priority and she has started teaching out of her home. She will bring baskets for sale to the program on March 30. She also has some weaving in the Log House Museum in West Seattle for the 150 year celebration of the founding of Seattle. Her people helped the Denny party survive their first winter in Puget Sound.

The program is free to Bainbridge Historical Society members. Non-members are $5 for adults, $2 for those under 18. Information: 842-2773.

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