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Planning fee hike advances

The Bainbridge City Council’s finance committee Monday advanced to the full council a measure to double the hourly fees charged by the planning department from $90 to $180 per hour.

The department charges hourly fees for certain non-routine matters, most of which involve subdivisions or other significant development projects.

City figures show that the fees charged by the planning department cover less than a quarter of the department’s cost of issuing the permits. Those costs include things like a share of the costs of City Hall, a portion of the costs of general city administration and the costs of land-use litigation, whether instituted by the developer or those inquiring about or protesting the development.

City finance director Ralph Eells said the $180 per hour figure would bring recovery above 50 percent, the minimum figure that the council has said might be acceptable.

The council intends by the end of the year to replace the hourly charges with flat fees for all or almost all of the planning department’s activities, and intends to charge them up front.

The argument is that the ease of administering a flat-fee system outweighs any perceived gains in fairness that an hourly-fee system might offer.

The increase will go into effect five days after the ordinance is adopted and notice is published.

– John Waldo

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***Foes appeal HSR project

Opponents of a proposed hotel-apartment complex on the north side of High School Road have filed suit in Kitsap County Superior Court, seeking to oveturn the city hearing examiner’s approval of the plan.

The appeal, filed by Bainbridge attorney David Davison, focuses primarily on the increased traffic that the project will generate. Appellants claim the city and hearing examiner improperly brushed aside testimony from the state Department of Transportation to the effect that the project will reduce traffic flow at the intersection of High School Road and the highway to below acceptable levels.

They want the court to order an Environmental Impact Statement that would analyze traffic impacts, including cumulative impacts of other projects in the area. They also want the court to require the city to adopt any mitigation measures requested by the state Department of Transportation.

The appellants – island environmental advocates and residents of the Virginia Villa senior residence immediately west of the project site – also want a further review of noise and vibrations on the nearby wetlands, a review of the plans to dispose of the excavated soil, and of area pedestrian-safety issues.

An initial hearing on the case before Judge Leila Mills is set for August 15.

– John Waldo

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***No decision on shore appeal

The city hasn’t yet decided on how to respond to a superior court decision striking down its moratorium on major shoreline construction, and likely won’t make up its mind until Judge Leonard Costello enters a final order in the case, attorneys say.

A hearing on the language of the order is scheduled for July 25, said Dawn Findlay, who is representing the city in the case.

Judge Costello last month struck down the city’s moratorium on new dock or bulkhead applicaitons, saying the city had no authority to enact such a measure.

Costello said that even if the city did possess such authority, the moratorium in question went too far because it prohibited ordinary bulkheads and small, low-cost docks, which state law specifically permits.

Judge Costello’s decision doesn’t become legally effective until he signs a formal order, Findlay said.

“Assuming he does sign an order consistent with his decision, we can accept it, move for reconsideration or appeal,” she said.

If the proposed order directs the city to begin accepting dock or bulkhead applications, the city will have the opportunity to oppose that provision, Findlay said.

Katherine Kennedy and Alfred Kitching of Manitou Park Boulevard have already attempted to file an application to build a bulkhead.

– John Waldo

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***Kucinich will speak on island

Presidential candidate and Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) will visit Bainbridge Island Saturday evening as part of a series of public events, fund-raisers and volunteer meetings in the Seattle area this weekend.

“This event is a unique opportunity for Bainbridge Island and the Peninsula, and a great way for citizens to educate themselves about campaign issues and about this candidate’s position,” says organizer Jo Ann Dickerman, co-founder of Kitsap Citizens for Kucinich, which is co-sponsoring the event with Bainbridge Neighbors for Peace.

In 1977, Kucinich was elected mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, the youngest mayor ever of a major city. Now in his second term as a congressman for Ohio’s 10th district, he serves as chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

According to a news release from the Kitsap Citizens for Kucinich, the congressman’s presidential campaign platform includes “universal health care with a single-payer plan; full Social Security benefits at age 65; withdrawal from NAFTA and WTO; repeal of the Patriot Act; right to choose, privacy, and civil rights; balance between workers and corporations; guaranteed quality education; renewed commitment to peace and diplomacy; restored rural communities and family farms; and environmental renewal and clean energy.”

Rep. Kucinich will speak at 7 p.m. July 19 in the high school’s LGI Room. Information: 842-1333.

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