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City council examines three new ordinances
No citizens raised public issue with three city ordinances under discussion by the Planning Commission at Monday night’s city council meeting.
The ordinances concern three issues with city zoning and permits, and Chris Hugo, director of Community Development, fielded questions from councilors relating to them. The three ordinances are designed to overhaul and update the Sequim Municipal Code. The first revises the code’s definitions to streamline language for the second ordinance, regarding accessory structures on property, and the third dealt with temporary activities and special events.
While there was little comment on the proposed redefinitions and accessory structure ordinances, the council was slightly more contentious about the final policy, which governed special activities and events.
The council had more to discuss with ordinance 2013-003, which makes substantial changes to the classification of temporary activities — on public and private land — and when a permit is or is not required for these activities.
It amends the municipal code to create five different categories for activities, ranging from low-impact marches and gatherings all the way to festivals and parades. Temporary activities on city property must have a permit and will be classified based on their impact on city services and community impact. For some low- or no-impact events — categorized as A1 events — Hugo says that a permit might not even be necessary and only a notice would need to be filed with the city.
Erik Erichsen raised an issue with the proposal, believing it to be too restrictive of events on private property, such as religious functions or neighborhood picnics. “We’re dealing with bureaucrats here,” he said, “and if the city can get more money out of people by charging people for (permits), they would do it.”
Hugo says that the ordinance isn’t being brought in to suppress ordinary activities, such as a backyard barbecue for friends, but more to formally enable most of the city’s popular events, such as street dances and the Lavender Festival. “This is a way to clean up the code and make it neat and consistent,” he said. “It’s not really setting up new rules, it’s just enabling the existing city functions.”
The council left the items open for public comment and further discussion at their next meeting, Feb. 11.
Also on the council’s agenda for the day was a resolution of support for the Sequim School District Tax Levy, which passed unanimously after a short public comment session.
Contact reporter Ross Coyle at email@example.com.