New council wants to review many areas of city government

Some major changes and revisions may lay ahead for the city of Sequim if the city’s new council members have anything to say about it.

During the council’s Jan. 28 meeting, an entire list of discussion items — the majority of which revolved around growth and development — were unveiled and put forth by the new council members, with discussion for the most part being led by council member Ken Hays. Although the new council members sometimes have been painted as being decidedly anti-growth, Hays disagrees with the assertion saying that while growth cannot necessarily be halted or even slowed down, the city can at least be smart about it.

“If I had my choice, I would roll up the carpets and close the doors, but we simply can’t do that,” said Hays during the Jan. 28 meeting. Hays went so far as to propose a mission statement along the lines of “Growth is coming, but we can manage it.”

“I would like the mission of this city to be that we can control growth,” Hays said.

“Do you want this to go on our letterhead?” asked city manager Bill Elliott.

The new counselors also asked that a citizen advisory committee be formed to investigate a whole gambit of development-related issues, from impact fees to the proposed Town Center Sub-Area plan. Hays said he wants a wide range of citizens serving on the board, including real estate agents, environmentalists, architects and members of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. Council member Susan Lorenzen, who supports the committee’s formation, said that she believes the community needs to be more involved in the city’s planning process.

“What do we want Sequim to look like 10 years from now? Do we want it to look like the east side of town, which looks like the moon with traffic that won’t stop, or do we want it to be a jewel?” said Lorenzen.

The proposal also called for hired consultants to help the committee and planning staff.

Although the majority of the council agrees with creating a citizen advisory committee, some were upset by the fact that the proposal was just now coming up for discussion.

“I would be willing to vote for this, but not tonight,” said council member Walt Schubert.

Council member Paul Mc-Hugh had a different viewpoint.

“I’m personally insulted that you’re trying to drive this through without our input,” McHugh said, adding, “We haven’t even gotten to what the cost will be for all these consultants you want to hire.”

City planner Dennis Lefevre, whose department will carry out such proposals, if adopted, said that as city staff they answer to the council and if the council wants to create a growth and development mandate, they’re obligated to follow it.

“I think the important thing to remember is that we are here to manage growth, and whatever direction we take to do that is from the council. If there are specific areas that they feel that we need to analyze and review and either enhance or upgrade or change, then we need to do that,” Lefevre said.

Hays also proposed revising the city’s permitting process.

Lefevre asked that he and Public Works director James Bay make a presentation to the council on how the permitting process works “… before we try to fix something that isn’t necessarily broken,” said Lefevre.

Bay added that such a presentation also would be good for the public to learn how the process works.

Hays also presented the possibility of reviewing and possibly restructuring the Public Works and Planning departments.

“The existing power dynamic is not appropriate for a town that is rapidly growing and evolving. The hierarchy needs to be better defined and to be easily accessible and predictable,” wrote Hays.

“If I had my choice, I would roll up the carpets and close the doors, but we simply can’t do that.”

— Ken Hays, Sequim city councilor

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