Business community weighs in on Port Townsend chain store ordinance

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County officials and business leaders on Monday questioned the benefits of an interim city ordinance regulating chain stores.

The business point of view was delivered at a heavily attended Port Townsend Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Fort Worden State Park Commons.

Chamber board members initiated discussion of the chain store regulation by inviting a prominent Port Townsend real estate broker, Fort Worden State Park’s manager and an ordinance proponent.

The Port Townsend City Council last month approved an interim ordinance restricting potential corporate-owned businesses to city commercial zones.

The chamber meeting was the precursor to a City Council hearing later Monday, after which the council voted 3-3 to send the ordinance intact to the Planning Commission for study and recommendations back to the council.

The ordinance, perceived as an offspring of the Stop Hollywood Video campaign, bans chain, or “formula,” stores from the historical districts and prevents two corporate businesses from inhabiting one building.

“The chamber has not taken any position on this ordinance at all,” said David Brader, chamber president, addressing the luncheon audience.

“We are just trying to educate the community about the issue.”

A crowd of about 70 attending the chamber luncheon included local business owners, several City Council members, a county commissioner and Port of Port Townsend officials.

A Canadian film crew, Independent America Media Inc., working on a documentary about the anti-chain store movement across America, recorded the event.

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