Clallam County adopts rural structure size ordinance

Commissioners voted to approve the after hearing concerns from East Sequim Bay Road residents over a proposed 32,000-square-foot bed-and-breakfast.

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County has replaced a 60-day emergency ordinance limiting structures in rural areas to 10,000 square feet with a six-month order that accomplishes the same thing.

Commissioners Mike Chapman and Mark Ozias voted Tuesday to approve the ordinances after hearing concerns from East Sequim Bay Road residents over a proposed 32,000-square-foot bed-and-breakfast in their neighborhood.

Commissioner Bill Peach was absent because he was serving with the state Board of Natural Resources in Olympia.

The concurrent ordinances, which will take effect Sept. 16, will impact 13 rural residential zones throughout the county.

They will not affect rural commercial zones such as Deer Park or urban growth areas such as Carlsborg.

The six-month interim official controls will give planning staff and the county Planning Commission adequate time to propose permanent zoning standards for large buildings in rural areas, officials said.

As it stands, Clallam County has no structure size limitation for rural residential zones and limited areas of more intensive rural development.

Planning Manager Steve Gray said a conditional use permit requirement for large structures is “certainly an option.”

Community Development Director Mary Ellen Winborn recommended the emergency ordinance after California developer Judy Lee proposed to build a massive bed-and-breakfast on a two-acre parcel at 695 E. Sequim Bay Road.

The proposed structure would be larger than the Quality Inn &Suites in Sequim and the Clallam County Public Utility District headquarters in Carlsborg.

“Folks around here are using their common sense and calling a duck a duck,” said Francisco de la Cruz of Blyn during Tuesday’s testimony.

“It’s a hotel on a spot that’s too small. And six months is a long enough time for anybody that gives a rat to get involved.”

The county Prosecuting Attorney’s Office recommended that commissioners repeal the 60-day emergency ordinance after it was challenged in court by Lee’s attorneys.

Because Lee’s building permit application was vested by the Department of Community Development, it won’t be impacted by the interim zoning controls.

“This [emergency] ordinance covers the whole county, not this project,” said Craig Miller, a Port Angeles attorney representing the developer.

“This project is subject to an enormous number of other processes, but this is not the appropriate one.”

Local and state agencies will review Lee’s proposal for septic, water, road-approach, stormwater, critical areas and shoreline permits, Gray said.

Ozias, who represents the Sequim area, said the law will be applied fairly.

“I hope that it might make a difference to the proponent of this project,” Ozias added, “to know that her neighbors, her entire neighborhood, and in fact dozens and dozens of folks from across the county are concerned, not at the type of business, not at the concept of a bed-and-breakfast, but at the size, scope and scale of this project and its relation to their neighborhood.”

“Once something is built, it’s there forever,” Ozias said.

A majority of the speakers in back-to-back hearings said they supported the zoning ordinances and shared concerns about the proposed bed-and-breakfast, which would have as many as 25 bathrooms.

“A glass, aluminum and concrete building that shows three stories above the ground and covers 32,000 square feet does not strike me as anything approaching rural character,” said Bill Brigden, who lives on East Sequim Bay Road.

“This is a hotel.”

De la Cruz said there are other locations in the county that would be better suited for a $20 million development.

“If this person really has their heart set on owning this, find an appropriate location,” De La Cruz said.

“It’s not 695 E. Sequim Bay Road.”

Miller emphasized that the measures before the board would impact the entire county and not his client’s project.

Citing property rights, Miller said he supported the repeal of the emergency ordinance and opposed the interim zoning controls.

“What is the sudden necessity that you adopt an interim ordinance?” Miller asked the board.

“What has happened? One application for a building larger than 10,000 square feet.

“It is in fact a knee-jerk reaction to my client’s application that has caused this to come forward,” Miller added.

“I would ask you, and urge you, to set aside that knee-jerk reaction and to think long and hard about the fact that you’re being asked to take away the rights of anybody in this county, anybody who comes into this county, who wants to build something larger than 10,000 square feet.”

The average residential structure in Clallam County is between 1,500 and 4,700 square feet, Gray said.

“In my mind, the purpose of this [six-month] ordinance is to give our Department of Community Development and our director of Community Development time to consider all of the elements that are necessary to properly define and ensure the characteristics and uses of residential zones, of rural zones,” Ozias said.

”Whether we characterize that as a knee-jerk reaction to a specific proposal or not, in my mind it doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that we’ve got an opportunity to address our comprehensive plan, to address our zoning code and to try and do some thinking about the future so that the code defines what we all want those zones to resemble.”

“I think six months is an adequate amount of time for public input, and it’s also the amount of time that our elected official, who is our head land-use officer, has asked for,” Ozias added.

”And it’s definitely my inclination to grant that.”

________

Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsula dailynews.com.

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