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Council to ask for more public input, will revisit view protection

  • Written by Don Mann
With only two study session items on the agenda and with three council members absent it made for a short night at the regularly scheduled Woodinville City Council meeting on Tuesday.

Without Paulette Bauman, Susan Boundy-Sanders and Bernie Talmas, the remaining quorum unanimously approved Resolution No. 406, to direct further citizen participation efforts for Woodinville’s 2014/2015 comprehensive plan update.

"It’s a bottom-up effort," Development Services Director Hal Hart said, "involving early and continuous public participation in the planning process."

The Growth Management Act (GMA) requires the city to review and revise its comprehensive plan and development regulations periodically. To meet the requirements of the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) jurisdictions publish meeting dates for its council, commissions and advisory boards through notices in the newspaper of record. In addition, local governments identify their timeline and process for amending comprehensive plans and zoning codes. A docketing process, keeping a list of possible changes, helps determine the schedule.

Woodinville’s next mandatory update is due in 2014.

The planning commission and city staff presented council with a list of 25 public involvement strategies and techniques to further disseminate information to the public and encourage outreach. That list includes ad hoc issue panels, bill stuffers, briefings, central information contacts, citizen advisory panels, citizen surveys, coffee chats, information repositories (King County libraries and City Hall), newsletters, open houses, press releases, public hearings, public outreach events, Web site notifications, Woodinville TV broadcasts and workshops.

"Engaging citizens in decision-making process is of critical importance to all of us," Councilmember Scott Hageman said. "But the approaches we choose have to be convenient, affordable and easy."

The second and final order of business was a discussion of view protection regulations. Currently the city has no ordinances or regulations that specifically regulate, protect, preserve or require provisions from views from, or to, properties, with the exception of designated "shoreline" areas as defined by the state.

According to Hart, there are some adopted policies contained in the Comprehensive Plan and Downtown/Little Bear Creek Master Plan as well as the Shoreline Master Program but nothing that requires specific regulatory compliance.

Hart added that Woodinville development regulations presently include a "step back" requirement: buildings 30 feet or higher fronting a street shall "step back" a minimum of 10 feet from that street.

He said regulating Woodinville views is a four-step process: define the views, study the views and document them, develop specific policies for preservation and determine how to regulate them, whether its regulatory or incentive based or both.

"View regulation can become a very controversial subject," City Manager Richard Leahy said. "Giving visual rights to one while taking them from others can be a touchy thing."

Councilmember Jeff Glickman concurred. "This is not a simple issue," he said. "It’s a complicated two-way street. The view is part of the value of the property. Most of the codes provide water view protection, but in what way are mountains different than water? We need consistency."

Councilmember Liz Aspen added, "We live in a valley so it’s all relative to what you like to look at. It’s a give and take, an emotionally charged issue and not everyone will be happy."

Mayor Chuck Price asked to schedule the matter for additional discussion, adding that he wanted to avoid public battles over specific views.

There were no public comments, before or after the meeting.

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