The Gig Harbor City Council voted Monday night to approve the final step in a development agreement for the Village at Harbor Hill project in Gig Harbor North, also known as the Town and Country Market.
The development agreement, which has been in the works for a long time, is a cooperation between the city of Gig Harbor and Olympic Property Group. The development is a proposed project for construction of a Town and Country Market to anchor a business park on an 18.56-acre site at the southeast corner of Harbor Hill Drive and Borgen Boulevard, east of Costco.
The development agreement includes public benefits such as the development of Shaw Park, six areas for tree retention, safer pedestrian crosswalks and new public parking spaces.
OPG submitted the development agreement application in December 2016.
The Council voted 5-1 to approve the agreement, with Ken Malich voting against, citing issues he had with the traffic plan. It was the first Council vote on a project since Councilwoman member Rahna Lovrovich resigned last week.
“I would like to speak against approving this motion,” Malich said. “There are some basic changes that need to be made. I think the traffic plan doesn’t suit what I see is a future place of traffic jams around the shopping center.”
Council member Tim Payne stood opposite of Malich, saying he believes OPG worked well to cooperate with the city and that he was proud of how the development agreement turned out.
“I think (OPG) addressed a lot of concerns that were out there,” Payne said. “While I understood the arguments that were being presented, I think we have an elegant solution here. I am not ashamed to say Olympic Property Group has been a terrific partner … how much I appreciate your approach to this community. The product you placed is excellent.”
OPG’s John Chadwell said there are a few more steps to be taken before construction could begin on the new shopping center. OPG still needs site plan approval, development plan approval and construction permits from the city.
“There is a lot of layers to this onion,” Chadwell said. “We have nothing in concrete. But we hope to start construction in early summer of next year.”
During the public comment portion of the meeting, resident Jerry Gammil proposed the city discuss placing pickleball courts in Shaw Park, stating the park was mostly just a grassy area without any real recreation for the nearby families living in Harbor Hill.
“Parks play a special role in our communities and benefit families,” Gammil said. “I recommend the park have four pickleball courts. The developers have already agreed to expand the park and it could potentially cost nothing for the city to develop.”
City Council members discussed the possibility of the courts in earnest. The group agreed the matter should be brought before the city’s parks department for future discussion.
Harbor Wildwatch lease renewed
In other business, the Council also approved to renew a lease for Harbor WildWatch to continue use of the historic Skansie House, located on Harborview Drive, until 2023. During the meeting, Lindsey Stover, executive director of Harbor WildWatch, gave a presentation on how the nonprofit benefits the community through education about the local marine life and environment.
The group holds many public, private and youth programs that Stover said brings a benefit to both downtown Gig Harbor through tourism and education but also benefits the local wildlife.
The Council voted unanimously to approve the extended lease agreement for Harbor WildWatch.
The Council also voted unanimously to approve the 2018 fee schedule which included a 10-percent increase in the Planning Department review fees, which mostly includes the land use permits.
“This is to account for the approximate 17-percent increase in the consumer price index from the last 10 years,” Jennifer Kester, the city’s planning director, said. “It has been 10 years since the city of Gig Harbor has made any substantial updates to the planning department portion of the review fees.”
Kester said other aspects of the department has seen gradual increases in the past decade, but compared to other city departments, the planning department seems to lack the needed fee increases. The increased fees will be effect on Jan. 1.