Port Townsend City Council deadlocks on chain store regulations; ordinance goes to Planning Commission

PORT TOWNSEND — Following a two-hour theatrical showdown Monday night, the City Council deadlocked 3-3 on a resolution supporting the city’s chain store ordinance.

The temporary ordinance, however, remains in effect.

Adopted by the council last month, it regulates chain retail and restaurant establishments by restricting them to city commercial areas and out of the historical districts.

The interim law also restricts corporate business space and allows only one chain, or “formula,” store per lot.

Following a 6-1 vote in April, Councilwoman Laurie Medlicott opposed, state law required another public hearing on Monday.

Mayor Catharine Robinson, a voting council member, was absent Monday night.

The remaining council split on the matter, with Medlicott, Frank Benskin and Geoff Masci voting to pass the ordinance onto the Planning Commission with fewer regulations.

They wanted to remove the requirement that chain businesses could not have greater than 50 feet of frontage.

They also wanted to delete that such buildings would be limited to 3,000 square feet maximum and occupy more than two stories.

They also hoped to allow more than one chain store per lot.

Council members Michelle Sandoval, Frieda Fenn and Kees Kolff were opposed to the amendments.

Still in effect

The ordinance consequently remains in effect without changes.

By taking no action, the ordinance automatically moves to the city Planning Commission anyway.

The commission is expected to consider it and make recommendations back to the council in September.

The Monday public hearing attracted about 40 residents, compared with about 100 last month who rallied support for the ordinance, largely drafted by representatives of the Stop Hollywood Video group.

About a dozen residents commented on the measure Monday, with nearly half questioning the effects of the ordinance and criticizing the impact on the city’s economy.

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