Know Your Planning Commission 6.27.12

***This is a recap of the planning commission meeting.  It will run after each of their meetings.  It is written by District 3 resident and Planning Commission Member Chris McNutt.***

The Planning Commission is a Council appointed, yet independent body of citizens who act as a vetting/advisory organization for land use and zoning to the City Council. The following is a personal account and may not reflect the opinions of other Planning Commission members. 

This week’s City of Puyallup Planning Commission meeting was centered around the exploration of the building heights in the CBD (Central Business District) and the CBD-Core (Central Business District-Core). On two recent occasions the City Council directed the Planning Commission to study the appropriateness of downtown building heights.  Once as a specific directive, and once centered around the idea of eliminating the CBD-Core zone. 

NOTE: The CBD zones are located at the heart of Puyallup.  You traverse its streets when attending Meeker Days and Farmer’s Markets.  You’re near its center while dining at Charlie’s Restaurant or while attending City Council meetings. The CBD stretches in a four pointed star like pattern from Cattin’s Restaurant in the south to Casa Mia in the north.  From Vancouver Door Company in the west, to the SR 167 freeway on-ramps on Pioneer.  The CBD-Core zone is roughly the inner core of the CBD starting at City Hall in the south and ending at Walt’s Auto Center in the north.  From approximately the train station in the west to just before the Meeker Mansion in the east.

As outlined in the meeting there are four primary differences between these two zones: 

CBD:

     ●     36ft maximum building height (bonus up to 51ft)

     ●     90% maximum lot coverage (bonus up to 100%)

     ●     25% minimum ground floor commercial space

     ●     1.5 parking spaces per unit minimum 

CBD-Core

     ●     65ft maximum building height

     ●     100% maximum lot coverage

     ●     50% minimum ground floor commercial space

     ●     1 parking space per unit minimum (5,000 sq ft exempt) 

Riveting, yes? 

The debate that ensued was centered primarily around the preservation of the historic and home town “feel” of the downtown versus progressive expansion.  While no decisions were made and no action was taken, many Commissioners wanted more specific information about potential regional impacts. The “Regional Growth Center” status of the CBD puts us in line for certain federal moneys which are given to many local municipalities to influence the direction and scope of urban growth.  The outline for this broad plan is held with the Puget Sound Regional Council’s “Vision 2040” document and to some degree the Washington State GMA (Growth Management Act). While some Commission members seem to welcome and embrace changes to the downtown area, others are concerned about the nature of these changes and are wary of outside agendas.  It was also brought up that the downtown infrastructure (water, sewer and roads) are at capacity and could not support new and larger structures. 

The meeting proceeded with some thorough citizen comments speaking both in favor of and cautionary against the considered alterations the meeting and was adjourned. The Commissioners and citizens were then led on a short walking tour of the CBD-Core to view some of the zone boundaries and building heights first hand from the ground. 

For more specific information about the meeting, please keep your eyes on the City web site for the audio recording and minutes of the meeting.  If you have questions or concerns about this (or any other city matter) please reach out to any of the City Council or Planning Commission members.  We receive all your messages and try to reply. 

Chris McNutt
District 3
Planning Commissioner
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