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City council back in session

  • Written by Don Mann
Back from a month’s break, five Woodinville City Council members (Susan Boundy-Sanders was still away and one seat remained officially vacated) took on five orders of business last Tuesday at City Hall.

Leading off, the council unanimously adopted Ordinance No. 531 to enact a moratorium of up to six months to prohibit medical marijuana collective gardens within its city limits. The decision included a 10-minute executive session for legal clarification by City Attorney Greg Rubstello — apparently intended for their ears only — and was passed without discussion.

Next up, council passed first reading of Ordinance No. 529 to amend the membership requirements of its tree board.

As background, city code established a five member tree board to maintain its “Tree City USA” designation with the following requirements: There shall be at least one business owner and three residents on the board; at least two members must be tree and/or plant industry professionals; no more than two residents or business owners outside city limits may serve at one given time; priority shall be given to residents for appointment consideration; and one of the nonresident members may be an employee who works within the Woodinville commmunity and in the industry.

With that criteria the tree board has apparently had difficulty maintaining membership, and council asked the planning commission to suggest some alternative membership makeup for the board. The planning commission, looking inward, recommended that planning commissioners be allowed to serve as “non-technical” members, and it was approved unanimously.

The next item was a Woodinville annexation update provided by Assistant to the City Manager Alexandra Sheeks: In April council approved Resolution No. 399 to formally designate Potential Annexation Areas (PAAs) in King and Snohomish counties and authorized staff to investigate the tasks necessary to further evaluate these areas for annexation. Sheeks said staff has met with representatives of two of the three identified PAAs in King County to confirm the city’s interest and inquire about desired zoning, develop intentions and timing. For two of the three PAAs, the King County Council will need to amend its Urban Growth Boundaries in order to add these properties to Woodinville, she said, and the county council is scheduled to discuss the matter in early 2012.

There are no immediate deadlines associated with identified PAAs in Snohomish County, Sheeks said, though those areas are larger and involve more property owners and issues. Staff’s work in these areas is “very preliminary,” she added, primarily relegated to research of applicable annexation law.

The next item was informational only: a review and comparison of permits and fees for the Woodinville Farmers Market, whose current location is on a closed 133rd Ave. NE between the driveway entrance to the Carol Edwards Center and the driveway entrance to City Hall. The WFM gathers for 23 Saturdays annually, averages 35 vendors a session and is charged $1,148 for the season by the city for permits and fees — higher than some neighboring farmers markets are charged but less than others.

The last item on council’s agenda was a discussion of possible regulations relating to view protection. According to Development Services Director Hal Hart, currently the city has no ordinances or regulations that specifically protect, preserve or require provisions for views of or from private or public properties — except within designated “shoreline” areas as defined by the state. Hart said some adopted policies and strategies are contained in the city’s comprehensive plan, Downtown/Little Bear Creek Master Plan and Shoreline Master Plan, but nothing that requires specific regulatory compliance. Council previously requested that staff review ordinances from other local jurisdictions, and Hart reported that Bothell and Kirkland have some measures in place.

He added that there were a number of nettlesome issues associated with regulating view protection, noting eight questions: Is this a matter for government intervention or is it better left to private solutions?

What views should be protected? Who determines which views to protect?

Should trees be retained or removed to protect views? How high and wide would these protections extend? Who would pay for them? How will conflicts with view protection regulations be resolved? And how would the regulations be enforced on an ongoing basis?

After some discussion— and some admitted confusion — council referred the matter back to the planning commission for study and recommendation, to be placed on the docket as a future agenda item.

Before adjournment, council again went behind closed doors with legal counsel to discuss current litigation with Woodinville Village Associates, potential litigation on the Brightwater tunnel easement, current litigation with Phoenix Development and, Mayor Bernie Talmas said, “to receive and evaluate complaints or charges brought against public officers or employees.”

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