PORT ANGELES — Two Clallam County commissioners have approved a change in zoning of 17.9 acres of light industrial land west of Port Angeles.
The undeveloped property northeast of U.S. Highway 101 and South Fey Road has been changed from urban reserve industrial to industrial, paving the way for a heavier industrial use.
Commissioners Mike Chapman and Bill Peach voted to approve the rezone Tuesday.
Commissioner Mark Ozias voted no, saying the proposal did not meet specific criteria listed in county code for considering such a change.
Examples of allowed industrial uses include asphalt plants, business parks, gas stations, research facilities, vehicle repair shops, wood manufacturing and wrecking yards, according to the code.
Commissioners took no action after a Sept. 27 public hearing on the rezone, which was recommended by a 6-3 vote of the planning commission.
The application was submitted by S.G. Hurworth, co-founder and chief executive officer of DelHur Industries.
Speaking on behalf of the applicant, DelHur Chief Financial Officer Tony Sample testified Sept. 27 that Hurworth intended to market the property for an industrial use that would provide jobs.
Sample and Hurworth were not available for comment Thursday.
In an Oct. 24 work session, commissioners requested an analysis of the availability of industrial land in the surrounding area and sought assurances that adequate infrastructure be in place should an industrial development occur on Fey Road.
“Based on the findings that the planning commission forwarded to the board, there was a specific finding that infrastructure would be required,” Principal Planner Kevin LoPiccolo told commissioners Tuesday.
“Staff had an additional finding,” he added, “that infrastructure would need to be in place, depending on the type of development.”
The Fey Road property has been leveled, filled, graded and contoured to facilitate an industrial use. A stormwater drainage system was installed and industrial road approaches were built, Sample said at the hearing.
Sample said the rezone made sense because the land surrounding the property was already zoned industrial.
“Staff is requesting that the board uphold the planning commission’s recommendation and support this request to change the underlying zone from urban reserve industrial to industrial,” LoPiccolo said Tuesday.
Prior to the vote, Ozias articulated his reasons for opposing the rezone. He said the code lays out six criteria that must be used when considering the application.
“There may be any number of good reasons for doing this, but we are tasked with reviewing the criteria outlined in our code,” Ozias said.
The rezone must “implement the goals and policies of the comprehensive plan in a matter which protects private property rights,” he said.
“In my view, this rezone does not protect the property rights of residents whose opposition to this heavier industrial designation has been historically significant enough to create the light industrial zone in the first place,” Ozias said.
Established in 2011, the urban reserve industrial zone restricts heavy industry and has more “checks and balances” for sewer and water infrastructure, county Planning Manager Steve Gray told commissioners Oct. 24.
The Dry Creek Water Association provides water for the Fey Road area through a 2-inch water main. City sewer service has not yet been extended to the area.
The rezone must not be “detrimental to the public health, safety and welfare,” according to the code.
“My position is that this proposed rezone does have the potential to negatively impact the welfare of area residents whose advocacy originally created the light industrial zone designation by allowing uses that have the potential to significantly increase noise pollution, light pollution and traffic,” Ozias said.
Ozias added that the code requires “changed conditions or circumstances from the time the property was given its present designation” for the board to consider the rezone.
“The main change in conditions we’re talking about here are the improvements that have been made by the applicant,” Ozias said.
“I don’t see that these changes were necessary based on conditions.”
He noted that the Fey Road property was evaluated for its compatibility with surrounding zones.
“That in and of itself makes good sense, but that’s not the criteria that our code calls out for evaluating something like this,” Ozias said.
”Compatibility relates to several of the criteria that our code calls out, but it is not one of the criterion in and of itself.”
A rezone that does not meet the criteria in the code has the potential to erode public confidence in the sacrosanctity of county zoning, Ozias said.
“I don’t take this position lightly, and I want to underscore my appreciation for the work that the planning commission, the staff and the applicant have done,” Ozias said.
Chapman and Peach voted to approve the rezone without further discussion.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].