City councilors will reconsider proposed changes to Sequim’s code language about Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in January, amendments that would allow more flexibility for the size and look of those homes.
They unanimously agreed to hold off on a decision last Monday, Nov. 23, based on concerns regarding incomplete language regarding manufactured homes becoming ADUs.
Barry Berezowsky, Sequim director of the Department of Community Development, said current regulations do not specifically prohibit manufactured homes as ADUs, but Sequim senior planner Tim Woolett said the architectural requirements in the city would prohibit them by default.
Previously, Berezowsky said ADUs are a secondary structure subordinate to the primary structure often used as affordable housing options for an aging family member or an unrelated party through a rental agreement.
Woolett said the proposed changes “should make some major differences in how (ADUs) are administered.”
Some of the proposed changes include increasing the max square footage from 700 to 850 square feet, broadening architectural choices beyond the primary residence, prohibiting ADUs from serving as short-term rentals for less than 90 days, removing a two-bedroom limitation and limiting the number of people allowed in a home.
Berezowsky said City Attorney Kristina Nelson-Gross advised the planning commission they cannot restrict manufactured homes in a neighborhood, but the homes can be regulated by size and age.
Berezowsky proposed city councilors approve the revised ordinance and come back with another amendment about manufactured homes.
He said the risk to proceed on an amendment for manufactured homes and ADUs was “extremely low” and that “no one is knocking on our door” to do one.
However, city councilor Keith Larkin and others said they feel reluctant to make the change because it felt incomplete to proceed.
“I’m real hesitant to do this until it gets cleaned up,” councilor Dennis Smith said.
Berezowsky said ADUs provide “some much needed affordable housing … It’s one of those tools in our tool box to create a larger supply of housing.”
Land use appeals discussion
Nearly two months after Sequim city councilors passed an interim ordinance in a special September Saturday night meeting to change the city’s code for land use appeal processes, they agreed on Nov. 23 to discuss appeal options again in January.
In September, councilors approved a temporary revision to portions of the Sequim Municipal Code to direct all appeals of Type A-1 and A-2 administrative permit decisions to a hearing examiner, with appeals to those decisions going to Superior Court.
At the time, Phil Olbrechts, the city’s appointed hearing examiner for appeals of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s proposed medication-assisted treatment (MAT) clinic application, wanted to clarify possible discrepancies in the city’s code regarding State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) determination appeals.
City staff said they felt the city council-approved change prevented any hiccups prior to the MDNS (mitigated determination of non-significance) environmental review appeal hearing, which started Nov. 16 and ended Nov. 24, with a decision expected from Olbrechts on Dec. 18.
Berezowsky said councilors can make the change permanent, or postpone a decision longer and look at other options.
Nelson-Gross said the city doesn’t have to act on it until March 26 — six months from the original revisions.
Mayor William Armacost and other city councilors said they wanted more time and opted for a work session at the first city council meeting in January (Jan. 11).
“It’s a serious decision we’re going to make,” Armacost said.
Councilor Mike Pence said they “hurried into that ordinance in September and I think we need to sit down and consider what it will cause in the future.”
In September, some city councilors said they felt staying with a hearing examiner was the correct process for the proposed MAT clinic because of the community divide surrounding the topic.
Community members previously testified to city councilors that the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s application should be heard by the city council under city code. However, city staff testified that the facility is similar to other clinics and medical buildings and is not classified differently and under staff review.
Olbrechts later reviewed appeals stating that sentiment and dismissed them as “lacking standing.”