News

City’s comprehensive plan to be updated

by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim Gazette

Five years into the 20-year 2006 comprehensive plan, the City of Sequim is back to the drawing board.

 

Christopher Hugo, the city’s new planning director, and city staff are beginning work on the state-mandated update, which he considers a revamp of the plan.

 

“Right now, the plan doesn’t work,” Hugo said.

 

“When people come to the permit counter, the permit staff shouldn’t be explaining permits by what the rules say or that it’s the law. They should be describing it by the kind of community we’re trying to create.”

City Manager Steve Burkett said during the formation stages, former staff included ideas from most participants, each with a particular interest and policy.

 

“Those were all included — something for everybody,” Burkett said.

 

“As a result, it has no real guiding ability because everything is in there. Council’s goal is to make it much more directive and meaningful.”

 

The 2006 plan included efforts from citizens, city council and staff.

 

Hugo said there are so many goals and ideas that this time around he’s going to revamp the process and keep community involvement at a value stage.

 

“What’s important to you about the community’s future?” Hugo asked. “It’s our job to get the community’s input to have value. Not just to say motherhood and apple pie things but OK you have an idea so help me direct that so we can help the community with a distinct future.”

 

Before he was hired, Hugo said he analyzed the plan using a 19-point checklist for effective planning and found that points in the Sequim plan were mostly confusing or too lofty.

 

He said Sequim isn’t alone and that many planners in other Washington cities have created unclear plans.

 

“It’s all about predictability and being predictable in ways that we’ve described with good outcomes for the community,” Hugo said. “People want to pick up a plan and know where the community is going. What is the community trying to do? What is my role as a property owner or as a business owner?”

Council input

The city council pinpointed some items months ago with former interim planning director Joe Irvin for inclusion in the plan, including revisiting the Urban Growth Area boundary and annexation policy, encouraging light industrial use and further restricting mixed-use zones. Hugo said all of these would be addressed in the updated plan’s framework. The zoning code, along with other plans, would be reflective of the comprehensive plan, as well.

 

“(The plan) is so loose that the zoning code can say just about anything it wants,” Hugo said. “If you have a directive plan and consistent code, then it should all be durable.”

 

Burkett said the comprehensive plan incorporates a number of elements and plans such as the urban growth element — working with Clallam County to establish an urban growth area; the land use element — outlining what kind of zoning ordinances residents want; utilities — streets and services; parks and recreation possibilities; and capital facilities — in terms of transportation and water and sewer.

 

The city council tentatively is scheduled to discuss the formation of a comprehensive plan steering committee on Monday, May 23.

 

Contact Public Works and Planning at 683-4908.

 

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