Sequim area land division moratorium extended

Although the meeting's subject was a stay on land divisions in the northwest corner of the

Sequim urban growth area, many who spoke to the Clallam County commissioners expressed their opinions on possible removal of their land from the growth area entirely.

A majority of those living within the Palo Verde Vista 1 and 2 neighborhoods, bordered by Priest Road and West Hendrickson Road, do not want to be in the growth area or the city of Sequim.

But those surrounding the subdivisions have mixed reactions to being part of the exclusion.

"I bought my land on Priest Road in 1988," said Trung Van Diep to the commissioners on Dec. 16, indicating many changes have happened to allowed land use since then, including the growth area and Sequim residential zoning.

"So I want to keep it this way. I want to stay in the (urban growth area) and eventually go into the city to build affordable housing."

The commissioners put a temporary stay on land divisions in the area in October while the county prepared to discuss possible exclusion of the land from the city's growth area. Tuesday's hearing was for the commissioners to consider extending the moratorium.

Discussion of removing the land from the Sequim urban growth area is scheduled for 2009.

Residents inside and outside of the subdivisions have petitioned the county twice for removal from the urban growth boundary. The most recent petition was submitted this summer while the county was forming new zoning to become compliant with the state's Growth Management Act.

"We are in full support of the interim controls although it does not protect against annexation," said Palo Verde Vista 2 resident Judy Larson.

Larson has been outspoken and an active organizer for those in the neighborhood seeking removal. Petitions indicate 70-80 percent of the residents do not want to be inside the growth area.

Their argument is that the area already is built-out at semi- rural densities and that the subdivision has clauses on property deeds restricting further land divisions. Their concern is that the city will encroach on their area and bring denser neighborhoods and worse traffic.

There are a handful of parcel owners who did not sign the petition, however. Several at the meeting, including Diep, said they bought their land expecting eventually to become part of the city or to hook up to city utilities.

"I expected the (urban growth area) and the city," said area resident Suzanne Brooks, indicating access to city water and sewer are options she doesn't want to lose. "I'd like to have the options and not the restrictions."

Land within the urban growth area can hook up to city utilities, can have higher densities of housing and can be annexed into the city.

Lands outside of the growth area are in unincorporated Clallam County. They are independent on their own septic systems and wells or small water systems and are restricted in housing density.

Sequim Planning Director Dennis Lefevre asked commissioners to leave two sections of property out of the moratorium - parcels at Priest and Brackett roads and the land between Kendall Road and North Ninth Avenue.

Commissioners opted to leave the land at the Priest and Brackett roads intersection out of the moratorium because the landowners had not signed the petition but left the other land in the restricted land base.

The moratorium affects those lands bordered to the north by West Hendrickson Road and on the west by Priest Road. The southern border of the restricted area skirts West Spruce Court, West Helen Court and West Fir Street and the eastern line runs along the east side of properties that lie between Kendall Road and North Ninth Avenue.

Both Diep and Brooks are still in the moratorium boundary, which is something they were less concerned about than being removed from the growth area.

But they and others will have an opportunity to speak on the topic again when discussion of removal takes place. No date has been set but the moratorium will last six months and the commissioners will decide what steps to take at that point.

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