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City puts hold on energy ordinance
At two recent meetings, Sequim city councilors took up several topics, including a renewable energy ordinance, a road project on Blake Avenue and recruiting a transportation consultant for the transportation master plan update.
Public hearings on the city’s proposed update of the temporary sign ordinance and downtown plan continue at the 6 p.m. Monday, July 11, council meeting at Sequim Transit Center. More to come on council’s actions with these proposals at a later date.
Renewable energy ordinance on hold
A proposed renewable energy ordinance was put on hold by city councilors for further study. One of the council’s 2010 goals was to make the city an energy center and promote better energy efficiency. Staff was investigating requirements that at least 65 percent of lots in brand new single and multi-family residential developments conform to a solar-oriented lot to preserve the potential for solar energy use.
This means that new major subdivisions, binding site plans and planned unit developments would mostly need to orient their new structures within 40 degrees of a true east-west line for optimum sun exposure.
Planning Director Chris Hugo said the ordinance would not dictate building or structure placement, require use of solar panels, set height and shadow limits for vegetation or structures, or establish solar or view easements in or out of the development.
Existing structures and trees would not be affected by this proposal either.
The ordinance formerly had a shading aspect, which would restrict shading on neighboring properties but Hugo dropped it from the proposal.
Hugo said it seemed difficult to enforce and exceeded the capabilities of today’s staff.
Ultimately, councilors wanted more time for staff and members of the comprehensive plan steering committee to add more to the ordinance. The comprehensive plan is slated for a final update at the end of 2012.
Chip sealing Blake Avenue
Clallam County crews will work with the city again in an interagency agreement to place chip seal asphalt on North Blake Avenue from Washington Street to Fir Street.
Work tentatively runs the last two weeks of July.
Public Works Director Paul Haines said settlement in the area’s utility trenches caused an uneven roadbed and cracks. Repairs would make the area’s surface better for five to seven years before more significant maintenance is needed. The contract is budgeted for $115,000 with $57,500 from the Water Replacement Reserve and $57,500 from the Sewer Replacement Reserve. The two entities partnered on an overlay for River Road and a Grant Road extension to the River Road roundabout.
Haines said chip seals normally aren’t put into urban settings but because of the city’s limited dollars they’ll use chip sealing rather than an overlay.
“It’ll work, it’s sound and it’ll add a lot of life to the road,” Haines said.
Councilors voted 5-1 in favor of the contract on June 27 with Don Hall voting no because he wanted money designated for Fir Street repairs.
He said councilors have tried to get Fir Street repaired for at least eight years.
“I don’t understand why we’re not working on Fir Street between Brown and Fifth because I think that’s the worst street in the city,” Hall said.
Haines said he’s not sure a chip seal would add life to Fir.
“We’ve budgeted to look at all 54 miles of streets to figure out what kind of resurfacing and work needs to be done for streets to survive,” Haines said. “For that to be done right on Fir, we’re going to need more (money) than we have right now.”
Council approves consultant budget
The first step city council took toward the goal of rethinking transportation was approving up to $100,000 for a transportation consultant to help update the city’s 2006 Transportation Master Plan.
Haines said consultants in 2006 developed the plan at the height of Sequim’s growth, so they focused mostly on new road connections and roadway capacity for vehicles. The update would include more focus on pedestrian, bicycle and other transportation types.
“So with the comp plan being updated and density changing, transportation needs to be in line with land use, which comes first,” Haines told the Gazette.
City Manager Steve Burkett said the city is working on many required updates to plans but the comprehensive plan and transportation master plan must be done concurrently.
“The current plan is one to build on. It’s not one to start over,” Haines said.
“Many assumptions have to be changed because of the rate of growth and rethinking how you move people through town. Is it going to change congestion rate? Where do you put traffic signals? Priority of sidewalks?”
Some of the city staff’s recommendations for the consultant include creating “cross circulation” standards for local vehicle and pedestrian trips; encourage and accommodate transit stops and access citywide; improve safety of school routes and park areas; develop and adopt a pedestrian and bicycle system master and action plan; and update impact fees to support the transportation master plan’s identified priorities.
The council will split the costs 70/30 over two years with the Transportation Benefit District. City monies will come from real estate excise tax dollars.
Citizen members of the City of Sequim’s comprehensive plan update still are needed. If interested, contact the City of Sequim, 152 W. Cedar St., at 683-4139.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.