The choice to sign a purchase agreement between the city of Gig Harbor and Haub family by the city council during Monday night’s public meeting was met with a loud applause and cheers from the audience.
A public hearing and a discussion of the property’s sale agreement, appraisal and environmental impact was held during the meeting, leading the council to decide to allow Mayor Kit Kuhn to sign the purchase agreement for the land. John Barline spoke on behalf of the Haub family, who’s patriarch Erivan Haub died just a day before the council decided to pursue the purchase.
“When Erivan bought the property he said, ‘Whatever happens to this is has to be a win-win for the community. It has to be something everyone should be proud of,’ ” Barline said. “I am sure (Erivan) is up there now, sipping champagne for this.”
The city council decided to move forward with the purchase of the property after an executive session April 8. Kuhn said he signed a sale purchase agreement to purchase the 2.5 wooded acres from the Haub family for $2.5 million. The city will put down a $625,000 payment toward the property and then make three more payments for $625,000 in the next three years. Kuhn said the contract also includes an interest rate of 1.96 percent, which would equal to an additional $77,000 payment. The city had 60 days, starting in March, to find the money in the budget, perform environmental studies, appraise the property, study the house on the property and place the issue on a future council agenda for public comment. If in those 60 days all the requirements are met, the Haub family will sign the contract and finalize the sale of the property.
The Haub property, located on Harborview Drive across from the Tides Tavern, became a hot-button issue in Gig Harbor last spring when the Ben B. Cheney Foundation began work with the previous city council on a development agreement that would allow for construction of 35 dwelling units in 10 townhouse-style structures on the upland triangular side of the property and three single-family dwellings on the waterfront. The second waterfront site, containing the Boat Barn and associated marina, would be conveyed as a gift to the city for public use.
According to city staff, an environmental and arborist report showed the soil was clean and the forest was healthy and expected to stay that way. The city also had the property appraised, which showed the property was worth $2.6 million, just over what the city paid. Kuhn said he wants to see the property used as an “urban forest,” and that there could be minor development in the future.
“I picture trails through the forest,” Kuhn said. “Red bricks with donors names. I see a possible pavilion that overlooks the water and the mouth of the bay.”
No one spoke against the plan to purchase the property during public comment. Council members voted unanimously on the purchase, agreeing the deal was the right move for the city.
City council opens up for a discussion about Millville
Councilwoman Jeni Woock’s text amendment to stop any future restaurants from opening in Millville was brought to the council for consideration during Monday’s meeting.
After much discussion between the council, city staff and public, the council voted unanimously to initiate Woock’s text amendment to be brought to consideration. Although the vote was unanimous, a couple council members stated they would not support a “ban” on restaurants in the waterfront's Millville district.
“An outright ban sounds like the nuclear option,” councilman Bill Himes said. “And I am not ready to do that. I would like to consider other options.”
Woock came up with the text amendment after consideration regarding restaurant zoning and how it affects nearby residents in the area. The Waterfront Millville Zoning District begins at the corner of Rosedale Street and Harborview Drive and heads west past Defiance Lane and ends just before Stinson Avenue, according to Gig Harbor Planning Director Jennifer Kester.
The text amendment will affect any restaurants within that zoning in the future, but would not affect any of the restaurants currently opened or those that have started the permit process to open with the city.
Maryjane Tarabochia, a resident of Millville, spoke during public comment for the ban, saying she was afraid of nine new restaurants being built in the area.
“We don't need more restaurants. We need parking and more amenities,” Tarabochia said. “The noise.. There is no closing time. The police will have to add two more officers."
Julia Stearns, whose family owns a large portion of business buildings in Millville, said her family wants to invest in the town, not make money.
“We want the community to enjoy the parks, museum tours and the history of the towns. We want to respect the heritage,” she said. “It's ridiculous to say we are going to put more restaurants. Be straight forward with what is going on. Nine restaurants have never been a thing.”
City staff clarified for residents and the council that only one restaurant had a current application to build a new building in Millville. Other current buildings could become restaurants if the building owner chose to close current businesses. Those restaurants would have to apply for a conditional use permit, but likely not required to create new parking.
Kuhn was against the amendment.
“These are scare tactics being used,” Kuhn said, about Woock’s comments on social media and to the public in recent weeks.
Councilman Michael Perrow said the ban on restaurants could open the door to more bans regarding other types of business allowed to build or open shop in Millville.
“Do we start limiting laundromats? Bakeries? I don't see a problem with restaurants,” he said. “What’s next to ban? This is a solution without a problem.”
Councilman Jim Franich was in support of the ban, while others such as councilman Spencer Hutchins said they would most likely not support a ban but would like to open the door to a larger conversation about conditional use permits and parking conditions. The initiation passed unanimously and will be brought to the planning and building committee in August.