POULSBO — If the City Council gets its wish, Viking Avenue will look more like a classic urban neighborhood in the near future, with sidewalk cafes, apartments above retail shops, and the stimulus Viking Avenue needs.
While updating the Zoning Code, Mayor Becky Erickson directed planning staff to identify development incentives for construction along Viking Avenue, which is Commercial Zone 2 in the updated code. The incentives are optional but appealing for mixed-use development — residential space above retail space, an outdoor plaza in the middle of shops and restaurants.
“We can’t sit back anymore,” Erickson said at the council’s workshop on Wednesday. The incentives are meant to “encourage a certain direction but not dictate it.”
The incentives include cost-saving measures for developers, such as reducing the number of required commercial parking spaces, and design standards that appeal to prospective businesses and apartment renters or buyers.
The design standards would also ensure the look of new buildings and redevelopment along Viking Avenue are consistent and blend in with each other.
As part of the allure of the design standards, the Viking Avenue-specific zoning code asks for frontage improvements — wide sidewalks with landscaping — and more pedestrian access. Erickson said the reduced commercial parking criteria makes sense when a person can walk to several destinations from their one parking spot.
Councilman Jeff McGinty was wary of the assumption that more people would be walking between residences and retails spots, and that the incentives may be creating a lifestyle that does not occur. He cited the problem the city faced when parking became inadequate in the Poulsbo Place neighborhood, because the council believed more of those residents would be walking.
Council members decided to review the Viking Avenue incentives more closely and discuss them again at their next meeting, Feb. 6.
Other changes were resolved at Wednesday’s meeting, including limiting commercial space in residential zones. The code will allow dental and orthodontic offices in residential zones within a half-mile radius of a school. No other professional office is permitted in residential zones.
Council members also agreed on urban farming standards in residential zones. The proposed zoning code allows hares and rabbits, and female domestic poultry depending on lot size. Lots 7,500 square feet or smaller are allowed two chickens, lots 7,501 to 10,890 are allowed four, and lots 10,891 to just under an acre are allowed six. Lots larger than one acre have no limit on chickens.
Mobile vendors, such as food trucks, would also be allowed in the city’s commercial zones except downtown (Commercial Zone 1). This new rule does not affect vendors that operate during special events, such as Viking Fest, which have their own permitting system.
A public hearing is scheduled Feb. 27, 7 p.m., in the council chambers. View the proposed update and workshop memos at www.cityofpoulsbo.com/planning/planning_codeam_2010.htm.