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Council covers wide range in final August meeting

  • Written by Don Mann
With new mayor Bernie Talmas running the show, the Woodinville City Council covered a wide range of topics in its four-hour, 21-minute meeting on Tuesday, its last until September.

The council devoted the first two hours to the continued public hearing on Ordinance No. 524, amending and clarifying development regulations for the Downtown/ Little Bear Creek master plan area.

Discussion once again included definition of exceptional design, allotment of affordable housing, large format retail store standards, definition of Northwest Woodland character and minimum residential requirement sfor the pedestrian core.

The item will be further discussed at the October 4 council meeting — when a replacement for Chuck Price’s vacated seat will be filled and all council members will be in attendance — before second reading and adoption take place at a later date.

Council then moved on to discuss recent changes in state law regarding medical marijuana "collective gardens" and whether or not to amend city policy. Current city regulations prohibit medical marijuana gardens and while a new state law allows their existence, federal law continues to prohibit them.

"If federal law does not allow it I don’t think we should allow it either," Councilmember Paulette Bauman said and her colleagues unanimously agreed, moving to continue to enforce current regulations which prohibit collective gardens and adopt a moratorium to "study the issue," ostensibly to avoid potential litigation.

The council then moved on to accept a sculpture donation from the estate of Malka Fricks, a longtime Woodinville resident and an advocate for the arts. At its July 12 meeting the council reviewed proposed themes for the sculpture and directed City Manager Richard Leahy to request the estate executor to work with a citizen committee composed of friends of Fricks to select a different artist and choose a more appropriate theme for the sculpture. The executor denied the request and reduced the offer to the "basset hound mother and pup" in one of three sizes. The council then voted unanimously to accept the offer in its largest size — sort of a take-it-or-leave-it, and it will be installed at the southwest corner of NE 175th Street and 133rd Avenue.

Council then unanimously approved the right-of-way acquisition plan for the Sammamish River Bridge replacement project, funded by state and federal grants with construction to begin in January of 2013.

Construction of the new two-lane bridge requires acquisition of 177 square feet of McCorry’s on the Slough property as well as over 8,000 square feet of permanent easement area and over 10,000 square feet of temporary construction area of six affected properties.

Additionally, council unanimously approved authorization of a $233,251 increase to the contract with OTAK, Inc. of Kirkland for design services on the Woodinville-Duvall Road widening project, bumping the total contract to $930,662. There are five reasons for the additional cost, Public Works Director Tom Hansen said: changing the original preferred alternative significantly increased frontage improvements and retaining walls; project limits have been extended 725 linear feet because of inaccurate city boundary maps used during the preliminary design stage; a traffic signal will be added at 160th Street to address neighborhood safety concerns; unexpected soft soil conditions were encountered that needed additional study; and fish passage improvements are now required by the state.

Finance Director Jim Katica then delivered the mid-year treasury report and the news was mixed: Though city operating expenses continue to be slightly ahead of projections, sales tax revenues are better in several categories: construction, manufacturing and retail and food sales. Retail sales are about 7 percent higher than this time last year, Katica said, and construction tax is up about $47,000. Property tax has had virtually no change, utility tax revenues are 5 percent lower than last year and admission tax revenues are 8 percent lower.

Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) revenues have slowed, city permits and plan fees are slightly better than forecast, and city expenditures are about 15 percent lower than expected, Katica said.

Police Chief Sydney Jackson delivered the mid-year crime and traffic report, also a mixed-bag: Part I (violent) crimes have decreased but Part II (non-violent) crimes have increased. Of primary concern was an increase in residential and commercial burglaries, with commercial incidents having doubled since this point last year. There has been an increase in overall dispatch calls, Jackson said, yet traffic violations and accidents have decreased.

Finally, Councilmember Scott Hageman volunteered to fill Price’s vacancy on the Brightwater Air Quality Advisory Board.

The next council meeting is scheduled for September 6.

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