Port Townsend City Council, planners get to work on two-year capital projects plan

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend City Council and the city’s planning commission have started the first of many meetings meant to prioritize capital projects for 2017 and 2018.

The council met Monday with City Manager David Timmons and members of the planning commission to begin laying out the work plan for the next two years.

“Tonight is just to get some direction,” said Timmons at the beginning of Monday’s workshop meeting in council chambers in historic City Hall.

“This will be the first of many discussions on the 2017 and 2018 work plan,” said Port Townsend Mayor Deborah Stinson.

The planning commission hopes to have a plan to recommend to the council by February, Timmons said.

During Monday’s workshop, Timmons presented the planning commission’s priorities for the next two years.

The development of Howard Street topped the list.

The Howard Street extension project broke ground in August and is on track to be completed in May.

According to Timmons’ recommendations, in 2017 and 2018, the goal will be to develop that area both for businesses and housing.

That means figuring out how to rewrite the city code to allow for live-work arrangements for business owners and how to build a business center while maintaining the surrounding neighborhoods.

That idea plays into the commission’s second priority of 2017-18, which is affordable housing.

“What I’ve recommended is not necessarily an audit but a way to guarantee affordability for a set amount of time,” Timmons said.

“We can make property affordable to developers or buyers, but once it hits the market, the market takes over. It may be affordable for the original buyer but not for the next generation.”

Timmons said parking requirements, zoning codes and partnering with the state Housing Trust Fund were the three ways the city could begin tackling the lack of affordable housing in the coming years.

“The flexibility we need is built into the comprehensive plan,” Timmons said. “We just want affordability to be a certain outcome. We have to explore alternatives.”

Next on the list was better defining requirements for basements and what constitutes “substantial damage” when dealing with claims of flood damage.

Last on the list was updating the city’s planning and zoning map to reflect recent changes.

Timmons also briefly discussed some of the major capital projects that are planned for 2017 and 2018.

One of the largest is the Water Street overlay. That project, which is still in the planning phases with a stakeholders group currently working on project designs, is a total overhaul of the water, sewer and street along Water Street.

The project is scheduled to be under construction by January 2018.

Members of the planning commission also introduced two plans that will be reviewed later by the city council.

Those are repairs and additions to the Port Townsend Visitor Information Center and work along Jefferson Street to provide a safe pedestrian-friendly corridor from Uptown to Downtown Port Townsend.

The planning commission will discuss the projects in more detail during its January meetings. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday in council chambers at 540 Water St.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.