Port Townsend working on upper districts

Ordinance would create specific zones on Upper Sims Way

PORT TOWNSEND — The city’s vision for Rainier Street and Upper Sims Way took a major step forward this week with a detailed plan to mix existing business and resource opportunities with the future possibility of housing and jobs.

City council members approved the first reading of an ordinance Monday following a public hearing.

The city also passed a resolution that established the internet as a core service of the Port Townsend Public Library, and it heard a special presentation from the Jefferson County Conservation District.

Meanwhile, Mayor Deborah Stinson and interim City Manager Nora Mitchell said the negotiation process with the city’s preferred city manager candidate has finally begun. The city named John Mauro its preferred candidate out of four finalists on June 24.

Mauro, the chief sustainability officer for the Auckland Council in Auckland, New Zealand, also is the sole finalist for the town manager position in Windham, Maine, just 30 minutes south of his hometown of Auburn, Maine.

“We’ve had an exchange of information, but we’re not quite there yet,” Stinson said.

Mitchell said Monday was the first day Mauro hadn’t been traveling or had other commitments since he was in Port Townsend nearly two weeks ago.

“The internet says it’s a 19-hour time difference,” Mitchell said. “Unfortunately, when I come in, it’s 4:30 a.m. tomorrow [in New Zealand].”

Development Services Director Lance Bailey presented the subarea plan for Rainier Street and Upper Sims Way. The ordinance would amend portions of the city’s comprehensive plan and contain changes in an appendix, he said.

The general framework intends to break the area down into different districts and use the zoning process to create or modify a way to implement development goals, Bailey said.

“They are intended to be separate but connected,” he said.

The plan includes a makers and artisan district as well as areas for industry, work-housing balance and mixed use. The 155-page document was prepared by consultant AHBL, Inc. of Tacoma and included input from the city council, planning commission and a community task force as well as city staff members.

It identifies intended characteristics, open space areas and primary streets where future development likely will take place.

The city identifies “catalyst projects” that will play a role during implementation. Those include adapting and reusing existing buildings along Sims Way for new uses, adding streets and transportation amenities, and cost-effective utility extensions such as a new sewage pumping station and a regional stormwater facility.

Specific parcels are scheduled to be rezoned during an Aug. 5 council meeting.

Earlier in the evening, Al Cairns, the manager for the county conservation district, asked the city to consider imposing a property tax or to enter into an interlocal agreement worth about $30,000 so the district can continue to provide service to residents within the incorporated area.

The conservation district recently completed four capital projects, but it’s finding it difficult to rely on a stable source of funding, Cairns said.

“We really don’t want to ask where somebody lives in Jefferson County [before we serve them],” he said.

The four council members present — Bob Gray, David Faber and Pam Adams were excused — asked staff to bring back both options for further consideration before a full council.

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Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at bmclean@peninsuladailynews.com.

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