City Roundup: Sequim council changes mind, moves forward with zoning changes

The council voted unanimously 7-0 Monday to make the first of several planned changes to the code following the city’s comprehensive plan.

SEQUIM — 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 council voted unanimously 7-0 on Monday 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 council members originally voted against the revision 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 once operated as a dairy farm, is mostly zoned RIII residential, but 2½ acres of the property is zoned commercial.

Special meeting

City Council members 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 the city ignored real estate agents’ and builders’ concerns.

“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 is “very cumbersome” and encouraged City Council members 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.

Councilwoman 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,” she said.

Councilwoman 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.

Councilman Ted Miller passed out a draft resolution for city staff and council members 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.

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Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].

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