Port Angeles code changes to be considered later this month

Motion to break into two parts fails

PORT ANGELES — A motion to postpone consideration of commercial design standards in proposed changes to the Port Angeles land use codes was defeated, pushing the city council’s consideration of the code revisions for final approval on Dec. 21.

Council member Lindsay Schromen-Wawrin on Dec. 7 moved to postpone action on Chapter 17.22 of the proposed Residential Building Capacity Code Amendments until after the first of the year while moving ahead this month on the rest of the proposal.

The motion was defeated in a 5-2 vote, with Council member Brenden Meyer joining Schromen-Wawrin.

Before the first reading of the proposed code amendments on Dec. 7, the council heard public comments from residents and business owners in Port Angeles who took issue with Chapter 17.22, which sets design standards for new developments in commercial areas.

These new standards include building facade articulation, window and roof designs and landscaping, among other issues.

Others took issue at the pacing with which these code changes are being addressed, stating it is too fast and there are elements that are not being thought through clearly.

“Tonight you have a big piece of code in front of you, 25 pages, a lot of complicated detail in it. It needs to be reviewed line item by line item. Everything in there affects some of the land somewhere in this city,” said Erik Marks, owner of The Port Angeles Wharf.

Marks had sent a letter to the city council urging a two-part process for approval of code amendments, allowing for more time to look at the design recommendations in Chapter 17.22.

“I’m encouraging you to break this very large piece of legislation into two, more manageable, parts,” he said.

“In this two-part approach, the first piece is the one you want to pass in December, and there is good consensus in the community around that piece (adoption of residential code changes).

“We’ve heard several speakers expressing concern about the commercial part; in my two-part approach, that’s the second part, that’s the one where I am urging you to allow us in the community to have more time to work on it and study it and get additional data and debate it with a target adoption date in May 2022,” Marks continued.

Marks’ two-part approach was backed by other members of the public and Schromen-Wawrin.

“I think there are a lot of good changes here that are important for us to move forward with, but I also share concerns about the commercial zone areas. I don’t see how it is part of residential building capacity,” Schromen-Wawrin said.

“I believe if we work through the residential building capacity parts of this code this month, we can then move on to that next commerce grant.”

The City Council received $50,000 from the state Department of Commerce to fund this portion of the code amendment process.

Through that funding, the city hired Makers Architecture & Urban Design to perform the scope of work that has led to this code redevelopment process.

Allyson Brekke, Port Angeles planning and economic development director, said Mark’s proposed two-part plan is not feasible and could impact additional grant funding.

“The Planning Commission and staff feel very strongly that the second draft as proposed is meeting the goals of the project and is in compliance with the comprehensive plan and State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA),” Brekke said.

She said the two-part approach as proposed and presented to staff and council had not been presented to the public through the state-required public process, “and we are therefore not recommending approval of that approach.

“If there is a desire for council to allow more time for further code revisions and public outreach, then that should be for the entirety of the code and not just certain components of it,” she said.

In an email, Brekke added that the entire code must be adopted to receive additional funding from the state Department of Commerce for this code redevelopment process.

“We have been informed by Commerce that in order to be eligible for future Commerce grant funding, we need to complete all the deliverables from previous funded work. In this case, that would be the ordinance being officially approved,” Brekke said.

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Reporter Ken Park can be reached at kpark@peninsuladailynews.com.

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