Downtownmoratorium extended without protest

Published on Thu, Feb 10, 2005 by eg Olson

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Downtown moratorium extended without protest

By Meg Olson

City council heard no voices in opposition as they swiftly approved extending the moratorium on central Blaine development for an extra six months to a year.

A dozen downtown residents attended the February 7 special meeting of Blaine City Council to consider extending a ban on applications for multi-family homes in the Salishan, Adelia and lettered streets residential neighborhoods. It wasn’t the overflow crowd that first asked council to enact the moratorium in August, but the message was the same.

“We need this moratorium to prevent further infill in our single family neighborhoods with multi-family projects,” said Ann Olason. “The reasons for enacting this moratorium haven’t changed.” Olason said in the six months since the moratorium was put in place, two duplexes had been built, their permits approved before the moratorium went into effect, and work had started on the 40-unit Adelia Commons project in her neighborhood.

Kathleen Capson from the Salishan neighborhood association enumerated their reasons for wanting to see a halt to multi-family development. “Very little of Blaine is zoned exclusively for single family use. The areas staff has identified are traditional single-family neighborhoods with a long history of single-family use. There is ample land in other areas for multi-family development,” she said.

Renee Horat had a more prosaic reason for supporting the moratorium. She doesn’t like the kinds of neighbors that come with lots of units in one building. A friend had recently sold her home next to a multi- family unit because “she spent a lot of time calling the cops for noise, or domestic violence,” she said. “I don’t want that.”

No one was at the hearing to oppose extending the moratorium, but Surrey resident Tali Conine had asked council at their January 10 meeting to let her build a duplex on her lot on Mitchell and Adelia streets. “This property is a duplex lot and it is now in limbo,” she said. Conine said she was not notified of the hearing but city clerk Sheri Sanchez reported notifying her verbally when she visited city hall at the end of January. The hearing was also advertised in the city’s newspaper of record and posted, said Blaine Community Development Director Terry Galvin.

In his report Galvin said staff needed more time to complete a review of central Blaine land use that would be lead to changes in the city’s comprehensive plan and zoning regulations. “Do we anticipate there will be changes? Perhaps,” he said. “The reason for the moratorium is to freeze development during our review. This is a substantially single-family group of neighborhoods and we think it’s only prudent to maintain that until our analysis is complete.”

Galvin said the comprehensive plan review would take more time. “The moratorium has a lifetime of six months and that is up in a few short days,” he said. He asked for an additional six months and the ability to extend the moratorium again after that. “October. That’s my knock down deadline to have these things in place,” he said, adding a consultant had been hired and Galvin would begin working almost full-time on the review.

While there was considerable council debate in July and August 2004 over whether a moratorium was the right tool to use to control development, council members had nothing to say about extending the moratorium. The measure passed unanimously with no discussion.