SEQUIM — How the city will grow and what projects are prioritized are some of the many logistics Sequim faces, and those issues will be a major part of the city’s required periodic review of its Comprehensive Plan.
Sequim City Council members took the first step in preparing that plan by unanimously agreeing on Sept. 25 to a $475,000 contract and 10 percent contingency with SCJ Alliance of Spokane to help the city develop the document.
“(The update) ensures we can meet the needs of our residents, preserve our community’s character, and foster a prosperous future while adhering to the requirements of the Growth Management Act,” wrote Charisse Deschenes, Sequim’s deputy city manager and director of Community & Economic Development, in a project overview to council members.
Council members last approved Sequim’s 10-year plan in 2015, which staff said guides the city’s growth, land use and development.
City Attorney Kristina Nelson-Gross said Sept. 25 that staff have been bringing back ordinances on a regular basis to unify with the city’s municipal code, but they feel going through a contractor to help redevelop the plan and go through a public hearing process is a better value.
“Staff has neither the time nor expertise to carry a project of this scale,” she said.
Out of five candidates, SCJ Alliance, which formerly worked with the city on its 2011 Downtown Plan, was recommended to council by a planning commission and city staff subcommittee.
They had the most comprehensive and clear response to the city’s request for proposal, the review team reported to staff.
Under the city’s request for proposal (RFP), the comprehensive plan, development regulations and critical areas ordinances would be due June 30, 2025, with work continuing into 2026.
SCJ will consult with the firm Transpo Group, which is working on the city’s transportation master plan update.
Deschenes reported in a September report to the city planning commission, SCJ staff indicated it’d be possible to update development regulations into a Unified Development Code (UDC).
This optional element would integrate multiple types of land use and development regulations into one section of the city’s municipal code, and help clarify and streamline planning projects and processes, as well as reduce staff and applicant time interpreting and using the code, Deschenes said.
Staff estimate not doing the UDC update would save about $130,000 from the scope of work.
City staff said there are three grants they’ve applied for to cover much of the plan update.
One grant through the state Department of Commerce is guaranteed at $125,000 over two years to help offset costs of compliance with mandated Growth Management Act periodic update requirements, Deschenes said.
City staff also anticipates receiving $150,000 reserved by Commerce to offset costs of compliance with mandated climate action requirements. They’ve also applied for a $50,000 Middle Housing Grant, which Deschenes said is competitive.
If the city doesn’t receive full grant coverage for the update, Deschenes said staff will look at the 2024-26 budgets to cover the difference.
She anticipates an outlined plan to be formed in the coming months with a lot happening in 2024 and 2025.
For more information about the City of Sequim, visit sequimwa.gov.
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@example.com.