The Gig Harbor City Council will move forward with the last group of city code amendments expected to pass before the expiration of the six-month residential development moratorium.
Group 2 amendments, officially called Ordinance No. 1391, were presented to the council during Monday’s meeting. A vote to pass the amendments is expected to be taken at the next regular council meeting on July 23.
The amendments in Group 2 include:
- Removing streams and other critical area buffers from the city’s net buildable area calculations.
- Removing minimum density requirements in R-2, RB-1, WR, WC and WM zoning districts.
- Lowering maximum density requirements from four units per acre to three units per acre in the RB-1, WR, WM and WC zoning districts.
- Requiring 15 percent of “significant trees” to be retained in short plats.
- Requiring residential developments with 10 units or more to provide one guest parking spot per four units.
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Two representatives from the Washington Department of Commerce, Ike Nwankwo and Anne Fritzel, attended Monday’s meeting to give the official comments from the department regarding the proposed amendments.
“You have a jewel of a city,” Fritzel told the council. “Which is what attracts people here. This is why we created the Urban Growth Act in 1990, because we knew people were coming. Our concern, many of these amendments are inconsistent with these plans for urban growth ... the effect of this action will encourage large, expensive housing. This the opposite of the smaller lots and units that will let your children buy and live here and let seniors downsize. (The moratorium) is a pause but the results will be permanent.”
Members of the public disagreed with the department’s comments, saying they are happy the council pursued the moratorium.
“We undertook this because we had too much growth too fast,” Gig Harbor resident Karen McDonald said. “We saw clear cutting and houses built so close together. I have to applaud the city ... the Department of Commerce needs to know we had to do something so we didn’t lose our forest.”
The mayor and council addressed the department’s concerns, stating they hope to tackle the issue of affordable housing in the future but that it will not be the focus of the moratorium.
“We just want to retain the character of our community,” Councilman Michael Perrow said. “The impacts of Seattle and Amazon have rippled down, and we are just continually steamrolled by Seattle. Our push back here is modest.”
In other news
New public works standards passed after a 6-1 vote. They will require all new private and public roads to have space for parallel parking. Councilman Ken Malich voted against the updated standards because he believes the current size of the parallel parking was too narrow. No public comment was taken on the issue.
The council voted unanimously to pass Resolution No. 1122, which created an official checklist of requirements and steps for city staff to take before the city can officially purchase any land.
Also, Mayor Kuhn proclaimed local music group United by Music an asset to the city’s culture and art scene, after a quick presentation from the group. United by Music is a nonprofit that helps teach disabled and special-needs adults how to play instruments and sing in a choir. The group tours the country and provides music for the Special Olympics.