Comprehensive plan to get first five-year review

"The answer is “38.”The question: What percentage of island development has occurred in Winslow over the past five years?And given that the Bainbridge Island Comprehensive Plan is predicated on trying to make that number hit 50 percent, a five-year review of the plan could go many directions indeed.“Between now and the end of the year, we’re going to have to decide how much we want to get into this,” said Marti Stave, senior long-ranger planner for the city."

  • Wednesday, January 12, 2000 11:00am
  • News

“The answer is “38.”The question: What percentage of island development has occurred in Winslow over the past five years?And given that the Bainbridge Island Comprehensive Plan is predicated on trying to make that number hit 50 percent, a five-year review of the plan could go many directions indeed.“Between now and the end of the year, we’re going to have to decide how much we want to get into this,” said Marti Stave, senior long-ranger planner for the city.Stave will give a presentation on the comp-plan’s first-ever formal check-up – mandated under the state’s Growth Management Act – at tonight’s city council meeting, 7 p.m. in the Bainbridge Commons.Living up to the state’s decree will be the easy part – between now and September 2002, the city must demonstrate that island zoning will still accommodate official growth projections over the next 12 years and beyond. The goal is to plan for 24,280 islanders by the year 2012, a number that’s actually far below potential buildout under current zoning. The island’s population today is already between 19,800 and 23,000, depending on whose methodology one uses.Another requirement that comes into play involves a review of how the island’s roadways of “statewide significance,” i.e. State Route 305, mesh with regional planning. Stave said the recently completed SR-305 Corridor Study should fulfill that mandate.After that, the issue becomes one of self-scrutiny – even if the comp-plan makes the state happy, are islanders similarly content? The city council, in its first meeting of the new year last Tuesday, acknowledged they may not be.“For the last six months, no matter where you go, you hear, ‘You’re not following the comp plan!’” Councilman Merrill Robison said.Councilman Jim Llewellyn agreed, saying that while most residents may support the goals of the plan – focusing half of future growth in the Winslow area, for example – many seem to have doubts about whether it’s being accomplished.“If we’re really going to use this thing as our bible and it’s going to be our 20-year plan, it really needs top-flight attention,” Llewellyn said.Where such a review might go was the subject of considerable discussion last week, and everyone seemed to have an idea – including forming a special council committee to oversee the review.That presupposed that it’s the council’s job to do so, which may not in fact be the case. Under the city’s municipal code – Section 2.36.010-A, to be precise – it is the Bainbridge Island Planning Commission that is specifically charged with “preparation and review of the city’s comprehensive plan.”Stave agreed, saying, “It’s up to the planning commission to set out what the process is going to be, the timeline and so forth.”The first phase of the review has already been mapped out, albeit by city planners. Throughout the rest of this year, Stave and her colleagues will look in-depth at the plan’s implementation – are farms and open space being preserved? Is affordable housing being built?Stave suggested that the plan’s utilities element may need to be updated, to account for telecommunications technology that was just emerging when the plan was drafted in the early 1990s. Also, traffic studies on island roadways could be needed to determine current levels of service.But what else? That issue may come into focus when the city undertakes a new “community values survey” this fall. The survey – a telephone sampling, undertaken by professional pollsters and statistically sound – should include the same questions as those commissioned for the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee a decade ago.What do islanders think of clustered development? Are they more concerned about open space, or less so than in the past? And what about increased retail development and new opportunities for light industry, two issues that proved extremely unpopular the last time around?Those questions, and the plan’s always hot-button land-use element, may well prove as contentious as they were when the comprehensive plan was drafted.But Stave said the review should be painless compared to the challenges faced by communities seeing wild development on the far side of Puget Sound.“(Bainbridge Island is) a pretty easy place to live,” she said. “There aren’t the huge problems that, say, the Eastside has, with unbridled growth, substandard roads, the gobbling up of resource lands.“We don’t have those issues here.””

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