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City is considering changes to zoning code

POULSBO — It may be dry work, but Ray Stevens enjoys it.

The chairman of the Poulsbo Planning Commission said he gets asked all the time why he continues to work on city zoning regulations.

“There’s no politics in it,” said the one-time city council candidate. “This is where the rubber hits the road. This is where it all comes to fruition.”

Stevens has served for 16 years on the commission, which is currently reviewing an update to the city’s zoning code, page by page.

The zoning code review began after the City Council approved the updated Comprehensive Plan in 2009. City planning consultant Karla Boughton said the Comprehensive Plan is policy language; now they are at the implementation step. The zoning code was last updated in 2001.

The zoning code does affect the ordinary citizen, she said, and not just  homeowners doing additions or major remodels. The city plans to add a new use category called neighborhood commercial, to accommodate the growing number of home-based businesses.

Staff members also addressed the different commercial areas in the city, and suggest changing the current two districts into four: Downtown/Front Street, Viking Avenue, SR 305 Corridor, and College MarketPlace.

The zoning code update will address a new business model: vendor carts. City planner Alyse Nelson said people were coming in to talk to staff about mobile business options, such as bike repair and a flower shop. The commission is fine-tuning the definition and uses of vendor carts to keep up with what other cities have implemented, such as Seattle and Portland.

Medical marijuana is also high on the agenda. Currently, the city has a moratorium in place prohibiting medical cannabis sales and collective gardens, which were made legal by the state Legislature last year. The moratorium is in place until the zoning update is adopted, and regulations will be in place. Currently, collective gardens would be allowed in Light Industrial zoning districts, and not permitted within 500 feet of another collective garden, residential zoning district, public park, community center, elementary or secondary school (public or private), commercial child care business or youth oriented facility.

The Planning Commission will review the zoning code through spring and summer, and expects to hold its first public hearing in August. The Planning Commission meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, 7 p.m., in City Hall Council Chambers. Meetings are open to the public.

The final draft code should be released to the public and City Council in September; council workshops and a public hearing will then take place. The city hopes to adopt the code by the end of the year.

The current draft can be found at www.cityofpoulsbo.com/planning/planning_codeam_2010.htm, under 2012 Draft Zoning Ordinance.

 

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