Open Letter to Council

Honorable Mayor and City Councilmembers:

I was on the Planning Commission when the zoning for the city waterfront area was reviewed and updated. When the zoning for this area was adopted, we went through a process of many months, involving extensive public input, both from those interested in development and those more concerned with quality of life and small city ambiance. We also solicited consultation with professional city planners and visited other small cities that seemed to have the qualities the public most wanted to incorporate. The zoning we have now was carefully considered by all parties and it was the best compromise possible.

It distresses me to learn that by using development agreements, virtually everything the Planning Commission was concerned about with these properties can be thrown out with little or no public input. 

On the City website this property is designated on different zoning maps as being in a height restricted area, a historic district and has the designation of being a prominent parcel in a visually sensitive area. By the city’s own standards this is a very protected sensitive area.

The Cheney Project, described on the One Harbor Point website, states that by the gifting of the Boat Barn Parcel to the City as a public amenity, the applicant is proposing to utilize the Development Agreement to seek deviations from certain development standards set forth in the Gig Harbor Municipal Code. A list of those deviations include:

  1. ALLOW RB-1 triplex & fourplex development on upland parcel (now R-1)
  2. DECREASE required building setbacks
  3. INCREASE allowable impervious coverage
  4. INCREASE density allowance
  5. ALLOW REMOVAL of ALL significant vegetation
  6. DECREASE separation between structures
  7. DEVIATE from required architectural design standards

WHAT ARE WE NOT CHANGING from the original code???

Furthermore, as stated by the developer’s representatives in an e-mail outlining benefits of the development agreement, one key benefit noted is that Development Agreements allow the local jurisdiction to “negotiate and accept proposed mitigation of project impacts.” This means impacts of the project on it’s neighbors, the city infrastructure, wildlife, etc., can be overlooked by doing some kind of “mitigation” which is at the whim of what the Council and developer negotiate--again without any public input.

In short, this development agreement process sweeps away the years of diligent work done by concerned citizens to preserve the charm and quality of life that makes Gig Harbor special to us.

Robert Stuart

Former Gig Harbor Planning Commissioner | Downtown Resident 

The next DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENTS meeting is: 

Plng & Blg Committee   Mon - Mar 20, 2017 - 5:30 pm

Gig Harbor Civic Center | 3510 Grandview Street

The meeting will focus on the Public Input Process for Development Agreements. Public Comment will be allowed. (Committee Councilmembers: Paul Kadzik | Steve Ekberg | Rahna Lovrovich)

Let City Council know what you think.