Multiplex homes up for city approval, discussion

Public hearing offered at 6 p.m. Oct. 10 with city council

Sequim city councilors open the floor to the community at their Oct. 10 meeting as they discuss proposed changes to allow more multiplex home building options.

Proposed changes could allow multiplex developments — up to four attached units such as duplexes and fourplexes — in single-family and community mixed use zones that make up most of the city’s development areas.

Each proposed development in these areas would be reviewed under an Administrative Conditional Use Permit (ACUP), with approval considered by the city’s Community Development Director.

Steve Lachnicht, Sequim’s Director of Community Development, said in a prepared video for the Sept. 26 city council meeting that the changes are part of a trend as 148 Washington cities have adopted some form of middle housing (diverse housing options) code changes.

To move forward with the plan, the city council is required to hold a public hearing on the changes at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10, in council chambers.

Councilors indicated they want to move the process forward to amend the Sequim Municipal Code so it would be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan policy they amended earlier this year.

Councilors previously agreed to amend the Comprehensive Plan on March 28 for multiplex home options, but city staff said they needed time to vet the city’s code to align with the plan, in oreder that building applications would be consistent with design standards.

Sequim’s Planning Commission unanimously approved city staff’s updates on Aug. 2, and they later added technical changes for clarity and consistency, Lachnicht said.

City councilors voted on Sept. 26, with Vicki Lowe excused, to have an ordinance ready after the hearing if they choose to vote.

Some councilors expressed an interest in voting on Oct. 10, while councilor Kathy Downer said she may want to have more time to consider the proposed changes, so that people opposed to any changes have enough time to speak if needed.

According to the city staff report, one of the changes would rename the “single-family zoning district” as the “residential zoning district” to recognize multiplex use.

Multiplex design standards are intended to maintain the character of residential communities and be compatible with the surrounding neighborhood, such as requiring the same height restrictions as single family homes, according to the staff report.

In his video presentation, Lachnicht said multiplexes are not likely allowed in homeowner associations in older parts of the city or newer developments, and he’s not anticipating much redevelopment of existing lots as many lots are too small to fit multiplexes, he added.

If the changes are approved by council, Lachnicht anticipates multiplexes most likely being developed on the east side of the city.

Colleen Robinson, CEO for Habitat for Humanity of Clallam County, continues to advocate for faster changes, including at the Sept. 26 council meeting, so the agency can build affordable fourplexes/townhome units in city limits to help lessen the housing need in the area.

Mayor Tom Ferrell said he hopes they’ll be “passing this code for a lot of people (who) I hope will be interested in the process.”

Lachnicht said his department has been approached by parties along with Habitat for possible multiplex development.

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