Council tackles several issues before the holidays

  • Written by Don Mann
In what was a surprise to no one, the Woodinville City Council passed second reading and adopted Ordinance No. 539 which amends the 2012 Comprehensive Plan to change eight properties currently zoned as Office and Moderate Density to Central Business — possibly, though not certainly, paving the way for a hotel near the intersection of 140th Ave. NE and NE 171st Street.

The vote was 4-2 in favor, with Mayor Bernie Talmas and Councilmember Susan Boundy-Sanders opposed — just like after first reading. Councilmember Art Pregler, who voted in support last week, was absent.

During final discussions, Boundy-Sanders reiterated her previous stance: There is no guarantee a hotel will be built on the location, there is no demonstrated need for a rezone and the amendment did not meet the legal criteria.

She even went so far as to say “My guess is that several of you have campaign contributions that you are rewarding.”

After a point of order was not recognized by the mayor, she finished with the following: “My ultimate point is I think our citizens deserve better than having us hide this in the connect calendar.”

Councilmember Paulette Bauman took exception to the last allegation, citing the item was part of the meeting’s study session as well as the topic of an open public hearing.

Added Deputy Mayor Liz Aspen, after calling for the vote, “We’re spinning our wheels here. If you don’t like the way the vote went, sometimes you just have to accept that.”

The meeting then turned to review of options for the future of the Old Woodinville Schoolhouse.

In May the council reviewed three reconstruction concepts prepared by the city’s outside consultant.

The Woodinville Heritage Society requested the council postpone a decision so it, with input from the Woodinville Chamber of Commerce, could present an alternate approach for the building.

In September the Heritage Society presented its vision to rehabilitate and operate the building, involving funding through a voter-approved bond and subsequent city ownership and on-going operation of the building.

Using numbers provided by the city consultant in a recent feasibility study, the Heritage Society estimated total cost of renovation would be approximately $6 million. Breaking down the numbers, it estimated in a bond measure owners of a $450,000 home would pay $85 annually for 20 years, or $7 per month.

City manager Richard Leahy said if the council were to pursue the project, several issues needed to be addressed sooner than later, including the operation and management of the building after rehabilitation, required project elements including parking, cost of construction, financing method and — most pressing — when to place the item on an election ballot.

After some debate, it was determined by consensus to place the bond measure on the Nov. 5, 2013 General Election ballot to secure maximum turnout and have time to make other necessary decisions.

During that debate, Boundy-Sanders indicated opposition to the measure, calling the project a “flight of fancy.”

She noted the project would be a great amenity to the city, but said it was too expensive.

“Citizens want congestion relief and transportation projects, not for their utility and property taxes to go up.”

Moving on, the council then approved Resolution No. 430, which adopts the Downtown Streetscape Plan but opted to defer on Resolution No. 431, which updates the Signage and Wayfinding  Plan.

The city retained a consultant to develop alternatives in each of those areas. Initially the council wanted to defer on both, but was reminded by Leahy of a time constraint due to a potential development agreement on the Canterbury site.

The Downtown Streetscape Master Plan primarily addresses aesthetic improvements, such as planting, lighting, parking and street furnishings that contribute to the image and define the character of each street.

The Signage and Wayfinding Plan addresses ways of creating consistency of directional and informational signs that are intended to improve the image, definition and readability of the city, improving wayfinding for both residents and visitors.

Neither of the plans submitted by the consultant were met with popular council approval, which cited “no uniqueness, little aesthetic appeal and no distinct vision,”and will consider further recommendations by staff on wayfinding signs.

Finally, council approved a revised plan from its finance committee for distribution of the city’s Human Services Grants. The city bi-annually receives requests from various human services agencies for funding donations for programs that match the needs of the community. The city recently received 37 applications for funding totaling $156,000 over the 2013-14 period, and awarded $140,000 to 13 applicants, $70,000 to be distributed in 2013.

The top three beneficiaries of the city’s largesse are the Northshore Senior Center (including the Wranglers program) at $26,900, Hopelink- Emergency Feeding at $7,905, and Northshore Youth and Family Services at $5,533.

Ten other agencies will split the remaining (approximate) $30,000 in various proportions.

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