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City tackles topics at Chamber luncheon
by MATTHEW NASH
A speech on the Sequim City Council’s goals from Mayor Ken Hays and City Manager Steve Burkett ended with questions mostly on hot topics of impact fees and city-issued surveys.
Members of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce packed Sunland Country Club on Tuesday, June 14, to hear the two speak on upcoming projects, including Richard Fleck, former Sequim school board candidate, who asked if Hays felt building impact fees prohibited building.
“I feel the national economy has stopped building,” Hays said.
Burkett said that in 2005 there were 400 new single-family residences and in 2010 there were 19 new homes. In comparison, Port Angeles, with a much larger population, had 19 in 2010 as well.
Hays said Sequim is not built out like Seattle, which constantly needs to rebuild.
“There’s a lot of uncommitted land around Sequim,” Hays said. “This is really the issue with
Sequim. “I truly do not think it (impact fees) is keeping things from being built.”
Hays said the custom side of residential development is continuing, whereas speculation building is going to struggle with or without impact fees.
Liz Parks, designated broker and owner of Re/Max Fifth Avenue, asked why the city’s upcoming parks and recreation surveys and customer satisfaction surveys are not directly given to business owners who might not live in city limits but have an investment in the city. She said about 68 percent of Sequim residents are renters and wanted to know if they thought it to be advantageous to send surveys to business owners.
Burkett said it’s difficult to sort out other people who don’t live in the city but have an interest in the city. “We have a lot of people who live out of the city who have a lot of interest and pride in community contributions,” he said. “That’s probably half the people in the room who don’t live in city limits.”
Burkett said a business survey is a possibility for the future.
“We’re making sure we’re providing all the core essential services as efficiently and appropriately as possible,” Hays said. “I’m sure it will be statistically valid in age demographics and distribution around the city.”
Greg McCarry, founder of Westerra Homes, asked Burkett if the city has any plans to take on new long-term debt for particular projects since the city has no long-term general fund debt. One possibility is with the city hall and police station, Burkett said, but it might require voters’ approval.
Finding a site for a new city hall is a council goal and Hays said it’s been a project for at least 25 years.
“We feel it sets the tone for a city and the downtown,” he said. “We’re looking at a few sites with results announced in about a month.”
Burkett and Hays shared duties speaking about the city’s pending plans, such as the comprehensive plan update, downtown plan, long-range financial plan and transportation master plan, and projects such as the water reclamation facility.
Burkett said, “We want to get to a point of selling reused water to those using irrigation so we don’t dip into aquifers.”
Contact the City of Sequim, 152 W. Cedar St., at 683-4139.