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Green awards for islanders -- News Roundup

Two Bainbridge-based businesses were honored with Earth Day Awards from Kitsap County this week for developing and using innovative ways to recycle, reuse and treat the environment carefully.

• Eagle Harbor Book Company, was honored for Outstanding Achievement in Business Recycling. The business boasts a 90 percent recycling rate, thanks to a concerted effort to revamp its waste management policies.

• The dental office of MacFarlane, Bell and Thompson received the Best Hazardous Waste Program award. The office installed an amalgam wastewater separator unit, which helps prevent mercury from old fillings from entering the wastewater.

•Additionally, the Outstanding Achievement in Environmentally Friendly Construction award was given to David Smith and Barry Keenan of the Central Highlands construction company for work on Bainbridge Island. All 15 homes in the Weaver Creek development are enrolled in the Build a Better Kitsap program, meaning each house uses resource-efficient and energy-efficient materials.

– Amy Crumley

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***Hearing set on clearing law

The Bainbridge Islaned City Council tonight will take up an ordinance to regulate land clearing, principally to prevent erosion.

Under the ordinance, anyone clearing more than 2,500 feet of land would need a permit.

“This is an opportunity to get some sort of planning review so we know erosion control is being addressed and that we don’t have clearing in critical areas,” said Steve Morse of the city planning staff.

The ordinance is aimed at relatively limited situations where underbrush and small trees are cleared from undeveloped land. State and city regulations already apply to timber harvesting, and the ordinance does not apply when the applicant has already gone through the planning process, which addresses clearing.

The ordinance exempts work done on existing farmland, or on established landscapes.

The plan is to develop a simple permit process, Morse said.

“We’re talking with the land-use committee, and we hope that this may be something that can be issued over the counter,” he said.

– John Waldo

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***Subdivision plan re-revised

It’s back to plan A-and-a-half for the Bainbridge City Council’s land-use committee in its continued efforts to craft a new subdivision ordinance that satisfies both the citizens and the law.

The new plan, which the committee will take up again at 1 p.m. today in the council meeting room, restores a requirement for designated open space. But it may base that on the specific characteristics of the land, rather than on a flat percentage.

The new plan calls for designation of a “home site” on each lot during the subdivision process, and for clustering of those sites – meaning that in general, the home sites would tend to be closer to the corners, where the lot lines meet.

The home and any accessory dwelling would have to be built within the designated home site.

But other uses permitted by the zoning, such as barns, garages and gardens, could go elsewhere on the property, so long as environmentally sensitive areas are protected.

The plan calls for requiring 30 percent of the property in new subdivisions to be designated as “open space,” a figure derived from a consultant study showing that some 30 percent of the island’s developed area consists of open space, much of it in parks and wetlands.

The planning staff is recommending that the 30 percent be considered a cap, and be applied only if the land in question contains features worth preserving as open space – namely critical areas, native forests, pastures and farmland, mature vegetation on ridgelines, and trails and greenways.

The ordinance modifies a heavily criticized 50-foot buffer requirement that was once envisioned as a possible substitute for open space.

The new proposal calls for dense buffers only in certain situations – along roadways and where clustered homesites bump up against other houses.

The plan also calls for waiver of the clustering requirement if the developer sets aside an additional chunk of land as open space.

“This is a big step forward,” said developer Kelly Samson, a persistent critic of the council’s efforts to rewrite the subdivision rules. “The goals and what they want to do make sense. They seem to be headed in the right direction.”

Council committee members could not be reached for comment Tuesday morning.

The subdivision ordinance is being retooled in the wake of the Washington Supreme Court’s decision last July that struck down a city of Camas requirement that 30 percent of land in a subdivision be set aside as open space.

At the time, Bainbridge imposed an open-space requirement based on zoning, ranging from 80 percent in the largest-lot subdivisions down to 40 percent in more dense areas. No open space was required in the highest-density zones in Winslow.

The council has imposed a moratorium on new subdivision applications, which has been extended through early August.

– John Waldo

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