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Design Review Board begins its work

The five members of the city's new Design Review Board spent their first meeting Dec. 10 setting up meeting times, developing procedures and learning just what they will do during the next 10 months.

The new board's members are chairman Troye Jarmuth, who also serves on the Board of Adjustment; Kevin Estes of Estes Builders; Doug Jensen, Clallam County deputy prosecutor; Colleen McAleer of Re/Max Fifth Avenue; and Harold Andersen from Quadra Engineering Inc.

The panel will meet monthly at 5 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month in the planning department conference room, 152 W. Cedar St.

Planning director Dennis Lefevre said the board's responsibility could range from reviewing developments the size of a duplex up to those the size of a Wal-Mart.

The board also will look for flaws in the design standards as they work through them although their changes probably will consist of just tweaking, he said.

City staff plans to bring City Councilor Ken Hays to a meeting at some point since this largely was his idea, Lefevre said.

At its Sept. 8 meeting, the city council passed an interim design guidelines and standards ordinance that applies to new construction of commercial, industrial, mixed use and multifamily buildings.

The design review board was included as part of the ordinance, whose stated intent is "strengthening the importance of maintaining Sequim's rural character."

The ordinance will be in effect for one year and city staff will present a report on its successes and failures to the council after 10 months.

The vote was 4-2 with Councilors Paul McHugh and Walt Schubert voting "no." Councilor Bill Huizinga was absent.

Lefevre said during the preapplication meeting with city staff, the developer will be told how to request a design review.

The applicant also can request a public hearing to try having the board override the staff's decision, which can be appealed to Clallam County Superior Court, he said.

Board members will receive a "notice of application," then the board will have 14 days to review the application, Lefevre said.

A plan review station will be set up in the planning department for board members to use during working hours, he said.

They will review the project relative to the design standards, not items such as parking that will have been reviewed previously, Lefevre said.

If board members have questions about the project, those will be sent to city staff, not the developer, he said.

Then if there's a concern, he'll ask the developer to revise the project and if the developer refuses, then a public hearing will be held, Lefevre said.

If a majority of the board's members have concerns about a project, that also would trigger a process that would include a public hearing, he said.

Then the developer will receive a notice of approval so a building permit can be pursued, Lefevre said.

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