4 for ’14 | Bainbridge city council: All together now?

New Bainbridge Councilman Val Tollefson takes the oath of office. - Cecilia Garza | Bainbridge Island Review
New Bainbridge Councilman Val Tollefson takes the oath of office.
— image credit: Cecilia Garza | Bainbridge Island Review

Like in prior years, 2013 did not lack in city council drama.

With three new members on the dais, a newly elected mayor and several contentious issues anticipated for 2014, many are waiting to see if history will repeat itself at Bainbridge Island City Hall.

Val Tollefson, Roger Townsend and Wayne Roth were sworn in to the Bainbridge Island City Council Wednesday.

Shortly following their oath of office, the gavel was also passed to Anne Blair in a 4-3 mayoral vote.

What lay before them in just the first portion of their term are such issues as closing out the update to the Shoreline Master Program, updating the Comprehensive Plan, combining the fire and police departments into one facility, regulating marijuana businesses, and approving a new and improved Waterfront Park, plus the usual unexpected surprises that can crop up for any city government.

While seasoned council members Sarah Blossom, Anne Blair, David Ward and Steve Bonkowski are no strangers to the spotlight, rookies Townsend, Tollefson and Roth will have no option but to learn quickly.

The draft SMP has gathered plenty of heat in the last 10 months for residents who believe the regulations are too restrictive to shoreline property owners. However, with five years worth of public process between the state Department of Ecology and Bainbridge Island, the process for a final update to the plan is on its last legs.

The draft changes were expected to be approved in December, but a delayed response from Ecology carried the process into the new year and onto the lap of a new roster of council members.

Another impending council issue will be the Comprehensive Plan. Under the Growth Management Act, the council and city staff are required to review the plan at least every five years. The plan acts as a guide for growth and development.

Potential updates to the plan can have a trickle-down effect for city planning. It can also give remaining and incoming council members an opportunity to further shape the community while retaining the island’s unique character.

The year 2014 is the starting mark for Tollefson, Townsend and Roth who were voted to the council in the November elections.

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