After a year-and-a-half of discussions, city councilors approved the update to the city’s Critical Areas Ordinance.
The plan updates buffer distances between new development and areas such as wetlands, streams, flood hazards, fish and wildlife habitat areas, and critical aquifer recharge areas.
Councilors voted 6-1, with Erik Erichsen opposed because he felt the provisions from Department of Ecology’s “best available science” means people would be stuck with the changes and the city would control what people do with their properties.
In the update, any applicant who wants to build near or in a critical area buffer must pay for a consultant to evaluate the area, with the city holding rights for final say on his/her findings. Most of the city’s known wetlands are Category III and IV, or lesser habitat and low functioning water quality areas.
Senior Planner Jack Dodge said some of the changes with the update include an increase in the buffers from the highest flowing streams at 100 feet to 150 feet (Type I), and 75 feet to 100 feet (Type II). Also, Category IV wetlands are classified as such when greater than 4,356 square feet and less than 10,000 square feet.
Several requirements to minimize development’s impact in wetlands were instated, too, including directing outdoor lighting and activity and devices that emit noise away from the wetlands.
Developments in planning like the Sequim Senior Activity Center’s proposed new center could fall under the old rules if plans are submitted and approved by city staff. In the senior center’s case, if not approved by June 1, then due to the project’s size, mitigation would be required for possible items like preserving plants and trees in the buffer and/or limiting access to the wetland area.
A contract worth up to $100,000 for a new citywide Transportation Master Plan narrowly passed on Feb. 13. Councilors voted 4-3, with Erik Erichsen, Don Hall and Ted Miller opposed to awarding Fehr & Peers of Seattle the contract to revise the city’s future plans for pedestrian and vehicle transportation of all types covering 20 years.
Fehr & Peers will create a capital project list that supports the city’s Comprehensive Plan. Through the yearlong process, the update process includes stakeholder interviews, public workshops and a review of impact fees.
Hall said the work plan was not worth the money and that most of the city’s issues are at the Washington Street and Sequim Avenue intersection.
Public Works director Paul Haines said the plan allows them to purchase 800-900 hours of trained staff time that current staff does not have, and that by not doing it, the city might lose out on grant funds.
Miller requested more time to review the scope of work, but Mayor Ken Hays and a majority of other councilors disagreed.
Hays said they’ve wanted this update for some time and that delaying it could cost the city much more later on.
Councilor Bill Huizinga said this was probably one of the most important things councilors could do.
Funding for the project comes from $50,000 out of the 2011 general budget, $20,000 from the general fund and $30,000 from the Transportation Benefit District’s funds.
Fehr & Peers was one of three companies to apply for the job.
Councilors unanimously approved an electrical vehicle infrastructure ordinance on Feb. 13, allowing people the right to put in different types of charging stations in residential and commercial areas. At this time, Sequim Village Shopping Center, 609 W. Washington St., owned by the McNish Family, hosts the only Sequim recharge station.
Miller said he discovered some confusion about the city supposedly installing these devices in the future.
Councilor Laura Dubois said the city is just providing the option to have recharge stations.
The ordinance does not affect personal electric scooters or mobility devices.
The city’s Comprehensive Plan received full support from councilors to brand it “Sequim 120.”
Chris Hugo, director of community development, said the 120 comes from honoring the city’s 100-year centennial celebration while shaping the next 20 years.
To promote involvement in the plan and community workshops, the signs that featured the Critical Areas Ordinance update are being updated with Sequim 120 information.
Hugo also ordered 3,000 coffee sleeves with the logo and workshop information for distribution in Sequim coffee shops.
Workshops include discussions on land use, streets, neighborhoods, community image, economic development, population growth and more. They will also “vote,” map and imagine the future of Sequim in sessions at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 10, and 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 11, at Sequim Transit Center, 190 W. Cedar St.
For more information or to reserve a spot, call 582-2448 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
A new survey on helping the city improve services for bicyclists and skaters at the Skate Board Park at Carrie Blake Park is available at www.sequimwa.gov under the “Spotlight” section and by clicking “survey.”
Surveys also are available at the Public Works & Community Development Building, 615 N. Fifth Ave., and City Hall, 152 W. Cedar St. Deadline for completing the survey is Sunday, March 4.