Proposed city code changes sent to council

Proposed changes to two sections of the city code that could allow more flexibility for developers and be easier to understand were sent for city council review following a unanimous vote at the Sept. 2 Sequim Planning Commission meeting.

City Planning director Dennis Lefevre said the rewrite of the permitted uses and bulk dimensional requirements of the city code was intended to clean up land uses such as nonexistent zones and determine how the city would handle density and lot size in its three residential zones (R-I, R-II, R-III).

The city staff's report stated, "The premise is allowing the outlined densities in each respective zoning district while allowing flexibility in design to preserve critical areas, provide more usable open space and promote efficient use of land."

Lefevre said developers were being hamstrung by the current density requirements and city staff wants to allow flexibility in planning so developers can create clustered housing and open space.

"It's not perfect but it's getting across the idea," he said.

Mike McAleer said the idea of permitting the density allowed under Growth Management Act-approved zoning should have been done a long time ago.

Judy Larson said there should be a State Environmental Policy Act review of the proposed changes.

These are significant changes because there's no maximum lot coverage and some amount of unpaved surface is necessary so water can recharge the aquifer instead of running down the street, she said.

If the city code has no minimum lot size and no maximum lot coverage, that could provide a basis for someone to challenge the code based upon the State Environmental Policy Act, Larson said.

Lefevre said he wanted the planning commission to review the changes first before conducting a SEPA analysis.

The changes actually create more unpaved surface, he said.

Planning commissioner Ted Miller asked if the code specifies a maximum amount for lot coverage.

Lefevre said city staff looked at that and there's not a reason for it but they wouldn't be opposed to adding them.

Miller said, "There's no good reason not to allow flexibility. Cookie cutter development and urban sprawl are what we are trying to avoid. GMA already restricts density on various zones."

Planning commissioner Dick Foster said the proposed changes are flexible enough for developers to consider innovative approaches.

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