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Compromise reached in proposed Gig Harbor zoning change

Compromise was reached among Gig Harbor citizens at Monday’s Gig Harbor City Council meeting following a discussion about a development agreement seeking a change in land use designation.

Referred to as the Smith Development Agreement, the plan proposed changes to the land use designations for a 16.71-acre area on the 6300 block of 112th street in Gig Harbor.

The proposed change for the area was for a residential high transition land designation, from the current land use designation of employment center, commercial business and residential low transition. A development agreement was also proposed with the land use designation that would limit future development to 100 total units, meeting multiple-family residential zoning (R3) requirements for the city. Part of the property is currently used as a gravel mine, with vacant portions.

Senior Planner Lindsey Sehmel presented the agreement as part of the 2016 Comprehensive Plan Amendments for the city.

A public hearing on the development agreement revealed widespread concern from nearby and homeowners about property values, traffic increases and the rise in crime near residential areas. Throughout Monday’s public hearing, neighbors to the property asked for compromise from the city and the land owner, Walt Smith.

An extensive council discussion followed the public comment, resulting in a proposal from Councilmember Tim Payne that the land use designation be altered on the proposal.

Payne suggested that, instead of a high-density residential zoning (R3), the property be zoned for medium-density (R-2) and that language limiting single family housing be removed from the proposal.

Smith expressed his support for the proposal change and for the viewpoints of those citizens who spoke during public comment.

The proposed Smith Development Agreement will return for the first reading of the ordinance and another public hearing at the Nov. 14 City Council meeting.

Other amendments to the 2016 Comprehensive Plan include a proposal to remove the mixed use land designation and text amendments for the Arts Commission. The proposal asks for the removal of the mixed use land designation for property along Burnham Drive and replace with land use designations that align with the existing zoning in the surrounding area.

The Planning Commission recommended that the Council wait on changing the land use designation until after construction is complete on the nearby Harbor Hill Extension.

The text amendment was proposed by the city’s Arts Commission to the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Element of the Comprehensive Plan.

This amendment would support the Arts Commission’s work program and is recommended by the Planning Commission to be approved by the Council.

Stormwater Low Impact Development (LID) Standards

The city is required to update municipal codes and standards to manage stormwater, especially to control water runoff from new developments, redevelopments and construction sites by the end of the year, said Jeff Langhelm, Public Works director.

Language and definition changes to the code were presented by Sehmel, who provided examples of storm water management and LID impact landscaping.

Proposed changes included a 10-percent reduction of the max impermeable cover from 70 to 80 percent, if the soil is suitable, an allowance of LID buffer management practices and greater flexibility and options for the location of perimeter landscape areas for residential, non-residential and mixed use development.

An increase in the retention of significant vegetation from 20 to 25 percent for multifamily and non-residential developments was included, along with a 25 percent significant tree retention to developments of five lots or more.

Also included is an increase in the ratio of tree replacement in the case of illegal tree removal.

The ordinance will return on Nov. 14 for a second reading.

2017 Public Works Standards update

Langhelm also proposed a variety of code revisions, amendments and repeals of code in the 2017 update of the public works standards.

Primary changes were specifications concerning trees along city streets, including specifications and details, minimum planter width, minimum soil value and the required structural topsoil under nearby pavement.

The ordinance will return for a second reading on Nov. 14.

Andrea Haffly: 253-358-4155, @gateway_andrea

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