The Gig Harbor City Council has been debating the proposed zoning changes to the downtown business and waterfront commercial districts, and one group has voiced its concern.
Jeni Woock, a volunteer with the Citizens for the Preservation of Gig Harbor, said the proposed changes — to allow buildings to reach 27 feet with flat roofs — would ruin the atmosphere of the waterfront area. The current municipal code allows for buildings to be 27 feet tall with peaked roofs.
“Our concern is with Harborview Drive,” Woock said. “Our concern is that we’re going to have corridors down on Harborview Drive.”
The “corridor effect” is created when buildings are bunched together with minimal gaps or openings, creating the sensation of going through a corridor.
Reid Ekberg, a member of the Gig Harbor Planning Commission, said the changes won’t create corridors.
“When we started the consideration, we were very conscious of the experience of the pedestrian,” Ekberg said. “We even took a meeting, took a tour looking at the existing buildings. We looked at potential remodels of other buildings and looked at how it might impact it. We also took photos.
“A lot of the existing buildings are already at 27 feet,” Ekberg said. “A lot of the higher buildings are already flat roofs. My thinking is that any additional building will be similar in scale and proportion to what’s already existing. We have a code in place to protect against view corridors. We’re looking for a way to allow building owners a little flexibility.”
Woock said she worried that flat-roofed buildings would hurt the views of the waterfront area.
“There is a visioning statement we have in Gig Harbor, and it has to do with picturesque views and a walkable waterfront and a natural environment,” she said. “Corridors are not going to do anything for the picturesque view. It sort of defeats the whole visioning statement for Gig Harbor to put corridors on Harborview Drive.”
Ekberg acknowledged that flat-roofed, two-story buildings could affect some of the viewing areas, but he insisted any changes would be minor.
“I don’t think it would ruin the view,” Ekberg said. “There are a couple areas where it could impact views, and that’s always a consideration. We’re tasked with trying to balance between keeping the character of downtown, but also making sure our code allows for economic vitality. We’re trying to balance those two forces.”
Ekberg said other planning commission members may feel differently.
Woock thinks flat-roofed buildings would be detrimental to the downtown environment. She began an online petition and started to collect signatures last week for a paper petition.Reporter Jon Manley can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_jon.