Joe Irvin

Joe Irvin

City Roundup: Sequim city councilors change mind, move forward with zoning changes

The Sequim City Council opted to go forward with changes to the Sequim Municipal Code more than a month after holding off on the same decision regarding zoning.

The Sequim City Council opted to go forward with changes to the Sequim Municipal Code more than a month after holding off on the same decision regarding zoning.

At their Sept. 12 board meeting, they voted unanimously 7-0 to make the first of several planned changes to the code following the city’s comprehensive plan, which was approved in late 2015. The changes would remove RIII, moderate density housing, and RIV, high density multifamily, zones and direct future development like those to newly zoned districts such as the Lifestyle District near Fifth Avenue and Downtown Sequim.

A majority of councilors originally voted against the revision on Aug. 8 after hearing testimony from real estate brokers and property owners of the Booth property at the intersection of Port Williams Road and Sequim Avenue.

The 38-acre property, which used to operate as a dairy farm, is zoned RIII, which is residential but 2 ½ acres of the property is zoned commercial.

City councilors made the decision to revisit the proposed changes in a Sept. 6 special meeting.

Chris Hugo, director of community development, said he stands by the comprehensive plan.

“This isn’t the last chance for single family zoning,” he said. “We’re doing the basic things and getting the new zoning structure in place.”

Thomas Booth, one of the owners of a 38-acre property, said through the process he felt realtors and builders’ concerns were ignored by the City of Sequim.

“I think the city would be better served with more variety,” Booth said.

Previously, property owners said a Silverdale developer is relying on the zoned commercial portion of the property to accompany 250 proposed homes but that would not be allowed under the changes.

Ron Gilles, listing broker for the Booth property through Professional Real Estate, echoed Booth’s comments that he and others felt ignored. He added that making changes to the property through the city’s procedures a year down the road are “very cumbersome” and he encouraged city councilors to seek outside legal counsel on the zoning asking, “Is this the best we can do?”

Previously, Hugo gave several reasons why the commercial area wouldn’t work kitty-corner to Rock Plaza with his biggest issue being there wouldn’t be enough homes in the area to support new commercial development.

Councilor Pamela Leonard-Ray said she voted reluctantly for the latest proposal because she felt it helps “create more homelessness in the community.”

“I’m hoping we’re going to deal with these issues in 2017,” she said. “I am concerned about the lack of affordable housing in Sequim. Looking at homelessness in the area, I feel by limiting the properties that are eligible for affordable housing, we are helping to create more homelessness in the city.”

Councilor Genaveve Starr said the zoning “can accommodate more affordable housing because it lowers the minimum lot designation … I think we need to look in the future at the duplex housing and the smaller/tiny housing neighborhoods.”

Previously, Hugo said the changes would promote single-family neighborhoods and more density while promoting neighborhood centers.

Councilor Ted Miller passed out a draft resolution for city staff and councilors to consider next year including increasing the amount of commercially zoned property on the future land use map, revisiting the mandate for garages in the rear for new homes, and more.

Guy Cole bids go out this fall

City councilors and city staff toured the Water Reclamation Facility and Guy Cole Convention Center on Sept. 12 to see updates on projects and processes for the city’s sewer system.

Joe Irvin, assistant to the city manager, led the tour of the community center, originally finished in 1983, in Carrie Blake Community Park saying construction bids are expected to go out this fall for a construction completion date tentatively set for the end of March to remodel the gathering hall and bathrooms and replace the roof.

The city will work with a $436,500 budget from the 2015-2017 Washington State Capital Budget through the Department of Commerce Direct Grant Program. Original plan estimates for remodeling the community center went upwards of $1.2 million.

This phase of remodels includes dropping the ceiling 18 inches-2 feet to improve acoustics and lighting, which Public Works Director David Garlington said will look similar to the Sequim Civic Center’s lighting.

The stage will be taken out and not replaced but all fixtures will be changed in the bathrooms, and new flooring, lighting and windows will be installed too, Irvin said.

Funds leftover will go to kitchen improvements, City Manager Charlie Bush said.

Artist Millie Harrell also offered to accept $8,730 in pledges in exchange for her 6-foot by 8-foot elk glass window. Originally, members of the city arts advisory commission sought $25,000 to purchase and install the window, but the campaign fell short.

However, Harrell donated the rest of her expenses and time.

City councilors agreed to have the window installed in the center of the north side of the building.

For the tour, city councilors and city staff also saw the process of how waste is treated at the reclamation facility and they saw the Gebhardt Zwicker Trail, south of Carrie Blake Community Park on Blake Avenue, where city staff recently removed brush and revealed tentative plans to plant trees along Bell Creek.

From Carlsborg to Jamestown

Similar to an agreement between Clallam County and the City of Sequim for Carlsborg, tribal elders with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe will hold a joint meeting with the city about its waste water treatment in October, said Sequim Public Works Director David Garlington.

He said construction remains on schedule with the Carlsborg Sewer Project, which will bring Carlsborg’s wastewater to Sequim’s Reclamation Facility.

County staff plan to be working in Sequim city limits by December with a completion date by April 2017, he said.

Garlington added that any agreement with the tribe will have similar considerations as Clallam County to install infrastructure to bring reclaimed water back to their facilities.

Farmers Market renews through 2022

Sequim city councilors also renewed the contract on Sept. 12 between the city and the Sequim Farmers Market through the end of 2022.

It allows the market use of Centennial Place at the northeast corner of Washington Street and Sequim Avenue, the Guy Cole Community Center and the Civic Center Plaza. The city charges the market $10 per week to operate under the contract.

Irvin said the contract is a holistic view of what could be the market’s needs over next five years.

“We were hoping the farmers market would want to house here (at the plaza). We have some storage here for picnic tables and some of market wares,” he said.

Lisa Bridge, market manager for seven seasons, said the market is a nonprofit and features eight agricultural vendors and all vendors make everything by hand.

“We’ve had a positive experience working with the city,” she said.

Bridge told the Sequim Gazette vendors are looking to secure a location at the Civic Center because the lot on Washington Street near Centennial Place may be developed at some date and they don’t want to lose the opportunity to use the plaza.

“We have also received feedback from some customers that the surface of the lot on Washington is difficult to traverse with walkers, canes or wheeled vehicles, and therefore is avoided,” she said.

“The board is still in conversation about whether there will be a portion of the market continuing to vend in Centennial Place because of the fantastic visibility.”

The Sequim Farmers Market goes through October at Centennial Place and for more information, visit http://sequimmarket.com.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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