BI OKs request for 100 sewer hookups

But they want them for affordable housing

A request for permission to ask for 100 sewage treatment hookups in south Bainbridge Island created quite a stink at a recent City Council meeting.

City manager Blair King asked for the OK because the city has reached its limit on hookups with the Kitsap County Sewer District. City code says it needs to provide hookups to anyone who wants it within 300 feet of the service. The city has contracted with the district for 25 years to provide service in the area because of previous problems with septic tanks.

The city is approved for 450 hookups. About 350 are being used with the other 130 reserved. Because they are costly, the city had asked to request about 20 per year. King said the district owns the wastewater treatment plan at Fort Ward, and it may not give the city any additional hookups, no matter what the City Council decides.

Councilmember Jon Quitslund said many people in that area want the district to expand, but Councilmember Kirsten Hytopoulos said she couldn’t support it, even though she personally is on septic in the area and would benefit from the change. She said more sewage allocation would encourage more development, and that area is not one where much growth should occur.

Mayor Joe Deets said he would like to explore the city’s ability to control the 100 hookups. We could “further our policy goals related to affordable housing, green building and small building,” he said. We could “encourage that kind of development.”

Hytopoulos said she likes that idea, but until such a measure is passed the hookups would be available to anyone. Her fear is the hookups would be snapped up by major developers before those needed for affordable housing could get to them.

Councilmember Michael Pollock agreed that the hookups would just encourage increased housing density. “It seems counter to our goals of focused growth.”

Deputy Mayor Brenda Fantroy-Johnson said that policy is needed first. “I don’t know how we can jump the gun until there’s a policy.”

Pollock said the hookups did not go to affordable housing before. They were “anything but affordable,” he said, adding they should wait until a policy is in place. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”

Councilmember Leslie Schneider simply said she supports the additional hookup request because the city’s allotment is up.

Deets said he supports asking for the hookups, but at the same time developing a city policy that would allocate them according to community goals.

That was approve 5-2, with Pollock and Hytopoulos voting no.

As for the future, the city memo says upgrades at the Fort Ward Sewage Treatment Plant would be needed in the future, which warrents further discussion.

Growth numbers

Hytopoulos and Pollock also voted against a plan to add 100 jobs for each of eight years as part of direction from the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council and Growth Management Act.

“We need to support our economic base,” Deets said.

Hytopoulos said she doesn’t think residents want more commercial or industrial on Bainbridge.

Senior planner Jennifer Sutton said BI, along with Poulsbo, Kingston and Port Orchard, is being asked to provide 32% of employment growth in Kitsap County. The city arrived at the 100 a year goal based on previous growth with current zoning for commercial and mixed use.

Schneider said the city has to make room for businesses to grow or else they will leave. “There are businesses on the island that we treasure, and we may be pushing them off the island,” she said. “We need to support the businesses we already have here or want to have here.”

Harrison contracts

The council approved three contracts that would change the former Harrison Medical Building into the new police-court facility.

Only two construction bids came in. The city decided on Clark Construction, whose bid was about $1 million less than the other. It was for $7.57 million. The city had budgeted $9.5 million. “That’s good news for taxpayers,” Councilmember Clarence Moriwaki said.

King said the city is looking at how to offset climate change as a result of the development. He also said the city will look at the project through an equity lens.

Contracts also were awarded in the amount of $349,000 to Coats Design Inc. and about $500,000 for day-to-day management for Parametrix.

The city mentioned all three contracts combined are about $650,000 less that the budgeted $20 million.

Development approved

The Bainbridge City Council voted to approve the Grow Community developer’s changes.

The new subdivision within a larger already-built one will consist of 14 single-family units. It previously planned to be 18 multi-family units and four for single families. However that idea was thrown out because it would have been too expensive to build a parking structure.

Pollock and Quitslund recused themselves.

Planning director

King said there are five finalists for the planning director spot, and a decision would be made in a few weeks.