DOD proceedings frustrate property owners

Click here to see a draft of the Downtown Overlay District*

*The draft is as of June 20. The City Council discussed changes to the finalized draft at Wednesday’s meeting that may not be reflected in this earlier draft.

Two rows of hard hats lined the public audience seats at City Hall on Wednesday evening as the Port Orchard City Council held another meeting to study the Downtown Overlay District.

In the sixth study session meeting, with at least one more to come, those who look to redevelop Bay Street came wearing hard hats, sending a visual message that they are ready to build and tired of waiting.

“I think we wanted to show some unity among the building owners and show the City Council that we’re ready to go,” said Gary Heagerty, who owns property behind City Hall.

He was cautiously optimistic about the council bringing the process to a close. “I guess it’s getting closer,” he said. “But it seems that way with every meeting.”

As council members filed out of chambers after scheduling more meetings to finalize the current draft of the DOD, the business owners were a mix of optimism and frustration.

“I’m getting so fed up by these meetings going on and on,” Bay Street property owner (and former City Council member) Ron Rider told Councilman Rick Wyatt.

Richard Swartz of Amajin Architecture said the council is moving towards completion, but admitted he was also growing impatient.

Explaining that this discussion could extend to September, he lamented, “I thought it would get done by September two years ago.”

Don Dahl, co-owner of 802 Bay Street with Deb Townsend, saw the deliberations as yet another two-week delay in their work.

“It’s very frustrating when they take half an hour to decide when they’re going to have another meeting,” Townsend said, adding that developers are ready to make Port Orchard a destination spot now.

“With a capital N-O-W,” she said.

The council discussed a draft of the Downtown Overlay District based on the previous five study sessions. All the changes were made from consensus discussions, but the final document did not match the desires of several members there.

The View Protection Ordinance remains a bone of contention between several members who thought the DOD’s height restrictions and design standards would trump the ordinance.

Wyatt and Councilman Bob Geiger spoke in favor of the view ordinance, citing comments brought forward during the public comment sessions.

“The principal of the view ordinance has to stand,” Wyatt said. “Fifty-five feet would be fine if it doesn’t interfere with anyone’s view. The people have told us that over and over again.”

Those wanting to separate the documents note that the View Protection Ordinance needs revamping, and one of the city’s lawyers, Loren Combs, claimed it would take a year to fix the document.

“You’re going to have to assume that the View Protection Ordinance gets taken care of right away,” Councilwoman Carolyn Powers said.

But with Councilman John Clauson and Councilwoman Rita DiIenno absent, the remaining council members decided the issue would need to be discussed again later.

The group ended the meeting at its regular 9 p.m. close and scheduled potentially two more meetings on Aug. 6 and 9. But those dates have not yet been confirmed with the absent council members.

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