How much time does it take to understand a massive document?

Bainbridge Island deputy mayor Jon Quitslund is worried.

The public will only have 60 days to read and digest and make comments and recommendations about the future of Winslow and Bainbridge Island once an environmental impact statement comes out July 12.

Quitslund is concerned “how to organize review of such a massive document.” He suggested one method might be to go through the documents each week with a different focus, rather than a “free for all with questions all at once” on topics all over the map, which would just bring “random results that are not very thorough.”

The council talked about that issue at its meeting March 26. It also set a public question and answer forum regarding the 625 Winslow Way East affordable housing project for April 15 at 5 p.m. at a location to be determined.

Regarding the monthly update on the Winslow Subarea and Comprehensive Plan projects, planning director Patty Charnas said that they “should break it up into bite-sized pieces.” Once the EIS comes out, they could see what content lends itself to that process.

Councilmember Leslie Schneider countered, saying it’s “not necessary to go section by section.” She said people could just look up the topic they wanted to discuss and “dive into that area.”

Charnas said that’s how Kitsap County did its EIS, and it received lots of public comments.

There was quite a bit of discussion about the need to draft policies and regulations to be included in the EIS.

“How can that be done without final approval” of the EIS? Councilmember Kirsten Hytopoulos asked, adding code should be changed after the document is done.

Charnas said Kitsap did do possible code changes in the draft EIS stage, and it was “too much. You have to go one step at a time.” She said that also would be unfair to the public process. She said the final EIS could contain parts of different alternatives, and it would depend on the final to decide what codes need to be changed. She said “you can’t predict that now” but once changes needed are obvious the work could be done then, and others would make sense after adoption.

Schneider said code that needs to be changed for “things like what the state wants us to do” could be done earlier, while “things we have control over” could be done later.

In opening comments, Charnas said the alternatives for Winslow and the rest of BI are to build up, build out or do nothing, which really isn’t an option. She said state and regional mandates mean for the first time cities have to address capacity.

To get public input, the process will include open houses, and written comments also will be encouraged, Charnas said. There will be in-person workshops at the three neighborhood centers — Lynwood, Island Center and Rolling Bay — where growth would likely go if “we have to grow outside of Winslow.”