Kitsap County is seeking public comment on a proposed land exchange at the county’s Norwegian Point Park. Three alternatives have been proposed for a conversion of approximately 6,000 square feet of land at the park.
Private property owners adjacent to the park have proposed transferring approximately 1.3 acres to add to the park in exchange for ownership of approximately 4,000 square feet and an easement reconfiguration of about 2,000 square feet for use of an adjacent property as a turnaround, according to a press release from the county.
According to the release, the property owners requested the trade because of trespassing issues and a lack of privacy due to the proximity of the park to their property; the exchange will allow them to build privacy fencing and install landscaping to more clearly define their property boundaries.
Norwegian Point Park, located in Hansville, was acquired by the county in 2005. The park was enhanced with funds from the Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation, now the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO). An Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account (ALEA) grant was used for the project, which was completed in 2008, according to the county’s release.
Funds from ALEA grants may only be used for the “acquisition, improvement, or protection” of aquatic lands for public purposes and to “provide or improve public access to the waterfront.” A conversion of the property funded by the grant, such as the proposed land exchange, requires approval from the RCO per the grant program policy.
The transfer of the 1.3 acres to the park would allow the county to follow through on its commitment — originally made in the 2004 grant application — to restore a stream and wetlands at the site to enhance habitat value, the release states.
In order to make the exchange, the county must “acquire a replacement property that meets ALEA criteria and is of equal or greater value to the conversion property.” The county considered other properties adjacent to Norwegian Point Park and other properties for sale in the vicinity, but has concluded that they are not practical alternatives.
Three alternatives are being considered, with the county laying each of them out as follows:
The first alternative would maintain the status quo: Norwegian Point Park would remain the same size — 5.68 acres. The alternative would also limit land available for the proposed Finn Creek restoration project, and allow an existing encroachment into the park to continue on the southwest side, violating the grant agreement for Norwegian Point Park.
Under the preferred alternative, approximately 4,000 square feet would be transferred to the adjacent property owners via a boundary-line adjustment, as well as an 8-foot strip along the northern property line and a 58-by-45-foot section along the western property line that would be transferred in exchange for a portion of a vacant parcel measuring 1.3 acres immediately east of the park boundary, at no cost.
The owners would retain the northern 120 feet of the parcel for a septic system. Additionally, an existing access easement would be adjusted to allow the construction of an approximately 2,000-square-foot turnaround area south of the expanded property line for the three homes that share a driveway.
“Lot lines for three parcels will be adjusted in one boundary-line adjustment,” the county’s release states. “Because the property conversion in this preferred [alternative] results in the County obtaining a larger piece of property and only one private property owner is involved in the exchange, no significant expenditure of public funds will be required.”
As previously stated, the exchange would allow the county to follow through on its commitment from the 2004 ALEA grant application to restore Finn Creek and the surrounding wetlands. “Wild Fish Conservancy is applying for additional grant funding for the Finn Creek restoration project in Norwegian Point Park, and the additional acreage to the park will be beneficial to those efforts.”
The RCO conversion process required the county to consider other exchange properties. But the properties considered either did not have a willing seller (properties “2” and “3” in the below graphic), were not immediately adjacent to the park (properties “1” and “2”), or were cost prohibitive (all three properties).
“Property 1 is currently listed for sale for $179,000. The property is vacant, doesn’t meet ALEA criteria, is not adjacent to Norwegian Point Park, and is cost-prohibitive for the County’s budget on this project,” the county’s release states. “Property 2 is vacant. It does provide some opportunity for restoration, but is not adjacent to Norwegian Point Park. This property is not for sale, and would be cost-prohibitive for the County’s budget for this project.
“Property 3 is adjacent to Norwegian Point Park and could meet ALEA criteria. The site contains commercial buildings and is not for sale. While it could be used to tie into plans for the park, it contains a successful local business that relies on its current location. This property is almost completely covered in impervious surfaces, which would greatly increase any restoration costs, and would be cost-prohibitive.”
The County is accepting comments through 4:30 p.m., Jan. 21.
Submit written comments to Jennifer Haro, policy analyst in the Kitsap County Commissioners’ Office, at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the mail: Kitsap County Commissioners’ Office, Attn: Jennifer Haro, 614 Division St., MS-4, Port Orchard, WA 98366 (must be postmarked by Jan. 20).