FORT WARD NEIGHBORHOOD ALERT: City of Bainbridge Island proposes zoning changes to Fort Ward to allow commercial, mixed-use and higher density

Fort Ward neighbors: The City of Bainbridge Island is updating the island’s Comprehensive Plan and its Land Use Element, which will guide island growth for the next 20 years.

The current draft (8.26.16) of the plan’s Land Use Element designates Fort Ward as a “Neighborhood Center,” joining Lynwood Center, Rolling Bay and Island Center as areas targeted for commercial zoning.

This change in designation would be the first step toward rezoning Fort Ward, to meet the city’s goal of “focus(ing) urban development” in the Fort Ward neighborhood (Goal LU-4) by encouraging commercial, mixed-use and higher-density residential redevelopment.

References to this proposed change of Fort Ward to “Neighborhood Center” or “Designated Center” appear throughout the Land Use Element draft. Among them:

  • Island-wide Land Use Concept map (page LU-3)
  • Policy LU4.2: Adopt a multi-year work program to undertake the “Special Planning Area” process for the designated centers of Winslow, Island Center, Rolling Bay, Sportsman Triangle, Fort Ward and Day Road (page LU-6).
  • Policy LU6.3: Island Center, Rolling Bay, Lynwood Center and Fort Ward offer housing and small-scale commercial and service activity outside of Winslow. These designated centers should be allowed to develop at higher densities to reinforce their role as centers” (page LU-10).

What is a “Neighborhood Center” or “Designated Center”?

According to the draft Land Use Element, a Neighborhood Center “provides island-wide commercial and service activity outside Winslow. These areas should be developed at higher densities to reinforce their roles as community service centers” (emphasis in the document, page LU-15).

Other goals and policies proposed for Fort Ward as a “Neighborhood Center” include:

  • “Mixed use development is strongly encouraged” (Policy LU 10.11).
  • “Retail uses shall be encouraged on the ground floor” while “offices and/or residential uses should be encouraged above ground floor retail” (Goal LU-10, Policy LU 10.2).
  • Development rights (density) will be transferred “from the Conservation Areas of the island into the Designated Centers” including Fort Ward (Policy LU 18.1).
  • Housing density up to 5 units per acre would be allowed (Policy LU-20).

The full draft of the Land Use Element is available for download from the city’s website:

If you’re concerned about Fort Ward being targeted by the city for commercial, mixed-use and higher-density zoning, please take the time to attend one of the upcoming public hearings or submit written comment on the draft.

Here’s how you can make your voice heard:

In person: The city Planning Commission is hosting two workshops and public hearings on the draft Land Use Element:

  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17 at City Hall
  • 4:30-8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22 at City Hall

By email: Written comment can be submitted by email to, but comments must be received by 4 p.m. Sept. 26.