KP community plan heads for planning commission

Rodika Tollefson, KP News For more than two and a half years, a small group of Key Peninsula citizens has met regularly to help shape future growth for the next 20 years, discussing issues ranging from land use and environment to community character and transportation. After two more April meetings, the group’s work will officially conclude — and the Pierce County Planning Commission will start taking the plan apart, putting it through a series of questions and public hearing sessions.
Meeting schedule The final meetings for the Pierce County - Key Peninsula Community Planning Board are scheduled for April 4 and April 18, 7 p.m. at the Key Center Library. The draft plan will be available at an open house between 4-7 p.m. on April 10 at the Key Peninsula Lutheran Church, McColley Hall, 4213 Lackey Road KPN in Lakebay. The planning commission meetings will be held every Wednesday, starting May 2, at 7 p.m. at the same location.
Although the plan is nearly complete, several issues have come back to the table at the last few meetings, including discussions about previously proposed forest land designations, and previously approved commercial zone boundary lines. At its March 21 meeting, the Key Peninsula Community Planning Board reversed an earlier decision to use the forest land resource zone. The issue had become controversial, following a letter to the affected property owners outlining the proposed changes, which, if passed by the county council — the final approving authority over the plan — would prevent them from subdividing their land. Although the board had finished the proposed land-use map more than a year ago, many property owners were not aware the discussions were taking place. “There was no intention to take away folks’ opportunity to subdivide their properties,” Pierce County Senior Planner Mike Kruger told a packed audience. He then told the board, “You can do your own thing (that’s different from the county criteria), but you have to justify your zoning.” The board voted to change the proposed land-use map by designating the earlier forest land zones either Rural 10 (allowing one residence per 10 acres) or Rural Sensitive Resource (based on a current watershed map). “I’d recommend you continue to follow the process because it’s not a done deal,” Kruger said, referring to the upcoming discussions by the county planning commission. That same statement, in fact, applies to the entire plan — the commissioners’ job is to make sure the plan follows Growth Management Act requirements, and if challenged in court, can be justified. Kruger said the planning commissioners as well as the county council members give great weight to the community’s plan and ideas, but at the same time they have to make sure the plan meets certain criteria. At the last two remaining April meetings, the board will discuss the community character and design element. Kruger encouraged business owners present at the meeting to review the draft of the section and provide feedback. "This board is about economic development, and we don't want to do anything that will stifle growth," he said. An open house on April 10 will give community members an opportunity to review the draft and provide feedback. “The plan is done, but this is an opportunity for people to comment and make a few tweaks,” Kruger said in an interview. The Pierce County Planning Commission begins review of the plan at a work session on April 24, at which time no public comment will be taken. The commission will then hold four or five meetings starting May 2, allowing for citizen comment. The commission’s recommendation will be forwarded to the Pierce County Council, first going through the Economic Development Committee, and later to the entire council. Kruger estimates the plan to be officially approved by this fall.