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City steps up for Serenity -- News Roundup

The city is taking at least the first step to save Serenity House, the group home for disabled adults located in a 1914-vintage building at Lynwood Center.

The city will sign a purchase-and-sale agreement with owner Ruth Schlosser-Wyman for $1.09 million, but does not plan to put up city cash to buy the property.

Instead, city officials will spend the next 90 days getting inspections done, looking for possible financing and finding an operator.

“This shows the owner and potential operators that we are serious,” said City Council chair Christine Nasser Rolfes. “And there are certain things, like inspections, that we need an agreement before we can do.”

The agreement was announced after an executive session at Wednesday’s council meeting.

The city will work with the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority, which is not interested in purchasing the facility itself but will share its fund-raising and grant-writing expertise, Rolfes said.

The low-key facility is home to some two dozen disabled adults.

The value of the property is in the land, Rolfes said, and any sale to a private party would likely mean demolition. That, in turn, would probably lead to the residents being moved off the island, she said.

“This is not a purchase, but is a step closer to preserving Serenity House,” Rolfes said.

– John Waldo

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***Moratorium extended again

Despite unanimous opposition from those who testified, the council voted Wednesday to once again extend the year-old moratorium on subdivision applications.

The moratorium this time was extended until Oct. 27 for short plat and large-lot projects, and until Feb. 5 for subdivisions involving more than four lots.

Land Use Committee chair Michael Pollock said the city would need that long to enact a new subdivision ordinance that, it hopes, can conform to the Washington Supreme Court’s decision invalidating requirements that developers set aside a portion of their land as open space.

But the moratorium continued to draw criticism from land owners and land use professionals.

“Actual people are being hurt here,” said developer Dick Allen. “Not the developers, but people who have fallen on hard times and need to sell a portion of their property, but can’t short plat.”

Attorney Dennis Reynolds, who represents the county homebuilders’ association and a number of local developers, questioned the need for a freeze while the council works on a new ordinance.

“Property owners and developers on this island have cared as much as anyone, which is why land here is so valuable,” he said.

Reynolds said he has worked with a number of developers who had their applications pending at the time of the Camas decision, and who could proceed during the moratorium, but without any requirement for open space.

In each case, he said, the developer voluntarily provided more open space than the amount the city is proposing in its new ordinance.

“You can put it in as a condition during environmental review,” he said. “Any thinking that without an ordinance you will have development without any open space is just factually incorrect.”

Council chair Christine Rolfes, a land-use committee member, said the applications Reynolds referred to were all filed pre-Camas case, while the city was requiring open space setasides of between 40 and 80 percent, depending on zoning.

The ordinance under discussion would, among other things, require 30 percent open space.

“The problem right now is that we have an ordinance that we wouldn’t want to defend in court after the Camas case,” Rolfes said, “but just doing away with the open space requirement would not conform to our comprehensive plan.”

The council plans a workshop on the proposed ordinance next week, and will conduct public hearings before any measure is adopted.

The vote to extend the moratorium was 6-1. Councilwoman Debbie Vancil dissented, saying the council could adopt a new ordinance by late September.

– John Waldo

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***Issei Creek restoration set

Work will begin next week on a culvert replacement and restoration of Issei Creek near Fletcher Bay.

The existing culvert beneath Battle Point Drive, through which the creek passes, is an impediment to the passage of salmon, trout and other fish species.

The culvert will be replaced, and stream enhancements put in at each end, according to the city Department of Public Works.

The project will run from Aug. 1 through Sept. 30. The work will require excavation of Battle Point Drive, requiring road closures and extended delays.

Closures will be announced in the Review each week. Information: 842-2016.

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