Gig Harbor to allow taller buildings on waterfront

Peninsula GatewayNovember 2, 2013 

A controversial ordinance increasing the building height for businesses located in the waterfront commercial zone of downtown Gig Harbor was approved this week by the City Council.

The council has discussed the zoning change since July, after the city planning commission requested the increase in building heights to help spur development in the historic downtown.

Under the new regulations, a flat-roof building can go up to 27 feet, which means two-story structures could be built downtown. Previously the only buildings that could reach 27 feet were those with approved peaked roofs.

An amendment related to the height of waterfront homes was dropped from the final vote.

Councilman Ken Malich was the one dissenter. He said his role was to be the voice for the opposition, which made it clear it didn’t want the height increase.

“Sometimes it feels awful lonely up here when you’re the only one sharing that opinion,” he said to cheers from the packed council chambers Monday night.

Malich pointed to the rapid development and arrival of chain stores at Uptown and Gig Harbor North as the reason for downtown’s struggles, not the city’s existing zoning rules that limit the size of buildings.

A petition with more than 1,000 signatures was presented to the council in early September expressing concern with the proposed height increase. Opponents worry that taller buildings will obstruct views.

Proponents believe the zoning change is necessary to draw development to Harborview Drive.

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