On June 27th, 2023, Raydient Places + Properties, the YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties, and the Rotary Club of Kingston-North Kitsap announced to the community that they were working together to explore an idea.
The concept entails Raydient rezoning the centrally-located 400 acres it owns on SR307 resulting in an increase in the number of single-family residential lots—from 20 to 80—and use “lot clustering” to create 100 to 200 acres of open space. Within a portion of the open space the goal would then be to find a home for a new YMCA and a sports/recreation complex. The complex would be central to all North Kitsap Communities and adjacent to the Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park, thus “uniting” both our communities and a multitude of healthy activities.
We are currently in the earliest stages of this exploration and encourage people to contribute comments and suggestions.
This FAQ addresses many of the questions and concerns raised so far. We intend to update it regularly, so please check back from time to time.
Rayonier purchased Pope Resources (and Olympic Property Group) in 2020. Raydient is the real estate arm of Rayonier, just as Olympic Property Group was the real estate arm of Pope Resources.
Rayonier’s primary business is timberland management. Real estate is a much smaller component of the company (as was the case with Pope Resources and Olympic Property Group).
Rayonier Advanced Materials is a separate, independent company with its own shareholders and CEO. They separated from Rayonier in 2014.
The property is approximately 400 acres and is the last vestige of a 4,000-acre tree farm that was owned and managed for timber production, first by Pope and Talbot and then Pope Resources from the 1800’s. We estimate the property has been harvested at least three times prior to planting the trees that stand there today.
The property is already subdivided into twenty 20-acre lots, many of which hold mature timber.
Raydient has applied to rezone their property from the current Kitsap County designation of Rural Wooded (1 dwelling unit per 20 acres) to Rural Residential (1 dwelling unit per 5 acres).
The property is already subdivided into about twenty 20-acre lots, the maximum under the current zoning. If the rezone application is approved by Kitsap County, Raydient will be allowed to create 80 single-family lots.
If approved, it is Raydient’s intent to explore lot clustering and create 80 residential lots that may be of a 1-to-2-acre size which should result in 100 to 200 acres of open space outside the residential development. That open space could be used for trails, wildlife corridors, recreation and athletic facilities, and additions to the Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park.
Lot clustering works by creating lots that are smaller than that called for by the underlying zoning. Raydient is proposing to rezone to Rural Residential which calls for lots that are 5 acres unless lot clustering is used. By reducing the lots sizes to between 1 and 2 acres, 100 to 200 or more acres of open space can be created. That open space could be used by the YMCA and Kingston North Kitsap Rotary.
All the ideas presented at the June 27th meeting are compliant with both Kitsap County Rural Residential and Rural Commercial zoning, and thus the Growth Management Act.
For more information on the various topics surrounding GMA, please visit the following websites:
- Rural Residential Zone: https://www.kitsapgov.com/dcd/Pages/Rural_Residential_Zone.aspx
- Performance Based Development (allows reduction of lot sizes and clustering): https://www.codepublishing.com/WA/KitsapCounty/html/Kitsap17/Kitsap17450.html
- Rural Commercial Zone: https://www.kitsapgov.com/dcd/Pages/Rural_Commercial_Zone.apex
The central location of the proposal will help mitigate overall traffic impacts, especially for activities that attract residents from all parts of North Kitsap. NKU’s central location will create the lowest overall road miles for region-wide activities, whether people are coming from Hansville, Poulsbo, Kingston, Port Gamble, Indianola, or Suquamish.
For example, a resident from Hansville would have to drive the entire length of Bond Road to get to a practice, game, or a health facility when going to Poulsbo. If the destination was the NKU site, they would drive 7 to 9 miles less.
Each of the three organizations will have to pay for a portion of the planning costs and all of their construction costs for their respective projects. Hopefully there will be synergies in co-locating the three activities when it comes to shared infrastructure.
We are engaged in the exploration stage of the project. Raydient’s goal is to utilize lot clustering which will create large open space. That open space might allow the non-profits to obtain land at little or no cost. We won’t know what is possible until environmental and financials studies are conducted.
NKU is not a corporate-driven project. It was conceived of and is being driven by local Raydient staff. The company is allowing staff the chance to create this teaming opportunity. The Raydient staff are many of the same people who formerly worked for Olympic Property Group when it was a subsidiary of Pope Resources and who have always worked hard to find projects whereby both the community and company realize a benefit.
This same staff:
- Founded NKTA, the North Kitsap Trails Association.
- Worked with the Hansville Greenway to expand public ownership and trails.
- Recommended creating the North Kitsap Heritage Park when the Arborwood housing project was included in the Kingston UGA. The county was considering a location next to the Port Gamble S’Klallam Reservation near Hansville. We believed bringing active and passive recreation closer to a more central location would make for a better park and community.
- Created the “String of Pearls” concept that created the Port Gamble Forest and the North Kitsap Heritage Parks.
The Poulsbo staff are again working hard to create another project that has lasting value to the community while meeting the corporate objectives. Corporate office support is dependent on the local staff recommendations and our success in demonstrating broad community support, financial feasibility, and success in obtaining Kitsap County approvals. We see this as a unique concept with potential community benefits for the decades ahead.
The land has been an operating tree farm for many generations. Regardless of the outcome of the rezone request, the mature trees will be harvested, and the land will be replanted as required by law. Nearly every standing tree was planted by hand with the intention that they would become a harvestable crop of Douglas Fir.
Currently Raydient (like Pope) allows the public to hike, bike and ride horseback on the property. The main trails are:
- Camel Back
- Dirt Devil
- Road G-1000
If Raydient abandons the NKU concept the existing trails will be closed permanently, and nearly all public use of the property will cease.
Whether or not NKU proceeds, Raydient will dedicate land for a public parking lot north of the sand pit and a trail along the north boundary line of the property as called for in the Memorandum of Agreement Regarding Collaboration on Trails and Open Space in North Kitsap.
The zoning change only means that NKU can then proceed to make a specific project application. The project application will need its own public process and environmental review. A project application will require far deeper environmental and traffic studies and more definition of the project itself (specifics on dimensions and location of all elements, dimensions, quantities of traffic, stormwater, etc.).
Success depends on many variables and the rezone is merely the first step in the process. Many factors will impact the project including:
- Washington State Department of Transportation requirements
- Unknown construction and operating costs
- Environmental issues
- Fundraising success for the YMCA and Rotary
- A requirement for NKU to be an economic improvement to Raydient’s existing subdivision
There were several goals:
- First, we wanted to introduce the NKU concept to see if there was any meaningful support. Raydient and the Kingston North Kitsap Rotary began speaking only recently. Raydient challenged Rotary to demonstrate to Raydient that meaningful support exists for their project and mission. Had there been none, we would have shaken hands and parted ways.
The addition of the athletic recreation facility is very complex and Raydient staff could not convince the company to take on risk and expend resources if Rotary did not demonstrate support.
- Next, we wanted to begin a community-wide discussion to help assess ideas, benefits, and concerns.
- Lastly, to assess the concept, Raydient needs to begin its high-level environmental studies. That means there will be machinery digging test holes, consultants searching for wetlands and streams, and inquiries to Kitsap County and the Washington State Department of Transportation. We felt it was better to be proactive and transparent. Otherwise, the activities could have stimulated unnecessary rumors.
The timberland management business was once a dominant industry in the area. The former millsite in Port Gamble was an economic hub. Its closure in 1995 was symbolic of the state of the industry and its shrinking footprint in Kitsap County. In 2007, Pope Resources announced it would be making a slow exit from North Kitsap.
As an exit strategy was discussed, OPG staff explored whether the company and community could work together to leave behind a memorable footprint of the company’s time in North Kitsap. That’s the background of how the String of Pearls was conceived. OPG staff were, and still are, grateful for the company support.
Community objection to timberland management is cited heavily in our rezone application as the reason to move away from Rural Wooded. The Rural Wooded designation was worked when the 400 acres was part of a 4,000-acre farm that would be managed for long-term timber production. That designation is no longer appropriate.
The two projects are very different but share some similarities.
- In Harbor Hill, OPG observed the community had fallen behind in creating sports and recreation facilities for its growing population. In response, OPG’s plan for the project included a YMCA, trails, open spaces, parks, and even a grade school.
The organizations working on NKU also recognize that North Kitsap would support and benefit from a YMCA and has fallen behind in the maintenance, construction, and planning for sports and recreation facilities.
- Harbor Hill lies within the City of Gig Harbor. The Growth Management Act requires that cities are urban zones and have the highest residential densities allowed under the Act. The city needed the project’s residential density to comply with the Act.
NKU is requesting an amendment to a rural zone to create approximately 80 residential lots.
- Harbor Hill created 500 single family and 500 multifamily and senior living units.
NKU proposes to create 80 single family residential lots.
- Harbor Hill includes 42 acres of retail commercial compared to NKU which proposes 3 to 5 acres.
The NKU project is separate from the County-owned heritage park. Raydient has no interest or legal right to build homes on County-owned park property.
What’s true is that NKU proposes to increase the number of residential lots from 20 to 80. That is the most that could be allowed under the Rural Residential zone. We’ve heard that some people are including the lots in the Port Gamble master plan. Port Gamble and NKU are unrelated and separated by miles. The Port Gamble plan was approved in 2021.
Kitsap County could not afford to buy both the land and the trees, so the County requested Pope Resources keep the mature timber enabling the County to purchase more land. After each stand is harvested, it is replanted. The trees that are replanted are then owned by Kitsap County.
Pope Resources would have preferred the County purchase both land and trees. Recently, a community group purchased over 700 acres of standing timber from Rayonier.
Raydient’s consultants are preparing proposals to perform first-level environmental studies. We hope to share these with the public in fall/winter of 2023. Once the studies are complete the results will be shared with the community.
Following the studies, Raydient’s consultants will begin developing conceptual site plans. We will gauge community support at that time and determine whether to continue or abandon the project.