The Gig Harbor City Council spent much of Monday night’s meeting on a continued debate about proposed zoning changes to the downtown business and waterfront commercial districts. A decision could be made in early September.
The second proposed amendment in the zoning ordinance would allow current nonconforming buildings to be remodeled or torn down and rebuilt to the same or smaller configuration, a policy known as “grandfathering.”
Council member Jill Guernsey said the amendment is a step in the right direction.
“It’s a baby step,” Guernsey said. “It allows redevelopment but maintains the character of the area. It will help revitalize downtown, and will benefit downtown.”
Council member Derek Young reiterated his concerns with grandfathering, saying it sets up two different types of property owners in the same area. He also said it’s a signal that the current zoning rules are too strict.
Council member Paul Kadzik agreed with Guernsey.
“The ordinance would be in the benefit of the downtown area,” Kadzik said. “I’m in favor of including it.”
Council member Steve Ekberg also said the measure would be beneficial to the area.
Considerable debate mounted regarding the next part of the ordinance, which would change the rules for building height. The current municipal code allows buildings to be as tall as 27 feet with peaked roofs. The proposed change would allow buildings to reach 27 feet with flat roofs, effectively allowing more two-story buildings to be built in the area.
The proposed change has been met with significant resistance from some citizens.
Council member Ken Malich opposed the measure, calling it a dangerous step. Malich said allowing taller building and flat roofs could ruin the view of the water from certain areas and may be a slippery slope.
“People want to have peaked roofs, and not flat roofs,” Malich said.
The council members eventually decided to leave the downtown business district north of Rosedale Street out of the ordinance, and it left the waterfront commercial district on the table for a third reading, scheduled for September.