Northwest NEWS

August 3, 1998

Front Page

Business owners object to Historic District plan

   by Lisa Allen
   Valley View Editor

   CARNATION--What started as a theme for revitalizing downtown has developed into a proposed ordinance that, if enacted, could have negative effects for those involved, say many business owners here.
   At a planning commission meeting last week, Carnation realtor Rick Pezzner told the commissioners that 50 percent of business owners had indicated to him that they wish to be excluded from a proposed Historic District. Several of them have signed petitions requesting the exclusion.
   But planning commission members countered that without an ordinance, there would be no way of enforcing the plan that they say is designed to encourage economic growth and re-vitalization of existing businesses.
   According to the ordinance, the Historic District is limited to the properties fronting Tolt Avenue, from the south city limits to the north city limits, with two sub-areas, the Core Area and the Gateway area.
   The Gateway area extends from the south city limits to the south property line of the Snoqualmie Tribe Cultural Center, with the Core Area including all other properties.
   Permitted uses include small hotels, tourist B & B homes, retail sales, offices, government agencies, restaurants, theaters, business services, manufacturing of hand-crafted items and residential dwellings located above the first floor of commercial structures.
   The ordinance encourages historically compatible design and materials and requires design review of any construction or remodeling by the Carnation Historic District Design Review Commission.
   At the meeting, city building inspector Bob Rohrbach said the Historic District concept was the brainchild of the Downtown Design and Revitalization Committee (DDRC), which was formed to encourage economic growth in the city.
   "The idea is to increase the appearance and economic viability of the town using a theme," said Rohrbach. "We agree that Carnation's character is historical and we wanted to capitalize on that."
   Addressing a question regarding parking regulations in the District, he noted part of the plan is to de-emphasize vehicles on Tolt Avenue by placing parking lots to the rear of businesses.
   But Ace Hardware store owner Bob Cox complained that was a taking away of a use, similar to a change in zoning.
   Pezzner continued to maintain that the ordinance "atrophies" growth in town.
   "Among other restrictions, the ordinance only allows a movie theater with a single screen," he said. "And no private parking lots."
   Planning commissioner Ron Richter said in his opinion the ordinance doesn't have a lot of teeth but some guidelines.
   "What I am hearing here is that people feel we are jamming this down their throats," he said. "The ordinance is not too bad but there are a lot of things people don't like about it. I represent you. If I hear that most don't want it, I'll vote against it."
   Commission member Yvonne Funderburg complained that townspeople have "become too divided."
   Funderburg said she remembers working with Rick (Pezzner) on a town theme.
   "He (Pezzner) wanted a certain look to the city, but we can't have it without some kind of ordinance or law," she said. "The town looks very indigent now. We need to draw people out here for the tax base. If we want property values to increase, we have to do something."
   Rohrbach noted that when the water pipeline (from the Tolt aquifer) is installed and sewers added in town, the city needs regulations for growth.
   "The ordinance is a living entity," he said. "It can be changed, but this is a chance to try something new."
   A public hearing was scheduled to follow the discussion of the ordinance but that was cancelled by Planning Commission Chair Donna Curley, and rescheduled for Sept. 22. Another public session on the ordinance is set for Aug. 28.
   City planner Steve Munson said later that Curley had made the decision to cancel the public hearing because of "unresolved issues" that were voiced during the question and answer session and because some of those who had signed up to speak had left the meeting.