Controversial Gig Harbor zoning rule to be rewritten

The GatewaySeptember 10, 2013 

Citizens crammed City Hall during the first Gig Harbor City Council meeting since July, a result of controversy over proposed zoning changes in the downtown business and waterfront commercial districts.

In the end, citizens were given a month’s reprieve from the proposal.

The ordinance includes four amendments, but the one causing the most pushback from the public would raise the limit on building heights.

Current zoning allows 16-foot heights for one-story buildings, and buildings with peaked roofs can rise to 27 feet. The change would allow buildings with flat roofs to reach 27 feet, effectively allowing for the construction of two-story buildings in the affected districts.

The proposal is intended to promote economic growth and vitality while preserving the area’s character.

Citizens for the Preservation of Gig Harbor Waterfront, led by resident Jeni Woock, has raised concerns about water views being obstructed.

Since the public comment period for the ordinance has come and gone, citizens were not allowed to speak at Monday’s meeting. However, council member Jill Guernsey moved that the council remove the waterfront commercial district from the ordinance and rewrite it for the Oct. 14 council meeting, effectively reopening the floor for public comment.

Guernsey stressed that any building height change would have to meet other existing city codes.

“These proposals do not make any change in the building size and setbacks, and don’t change the view corridors requirement, or design review requirements,” she said.

Some residents feel the council has tried to sneak the proposal past the public.

“In multiple emails I’ve received, people have said we’re pulling a fast one, with the implication being that big developers had bought up all these properties, and the council was kowtowing to them because we want extra funds,” said council member Paul Kadzik. “Nothing could be further from the truth. To the best of my knowledge, there is no large developer out there planning a project.”

The city will hold an open house on Oct. 14 to showcase some of renderings and educate the public on the changes.

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