Community Environment Government

City council asks planning commission to review proposed zoning change

Posted on March 28th, 2024 By:

The Gig Harbor City Council voted Monday to ask the city Planning Commission to review a proposal to change the land use designation for a 23-acre parcel west of Highway 16.

A group called Henderson Burnham LLC requested the zoning change so the company can build an unspecified number of single-family homes on the site. The property is located near the corner of Burnham Drive and 112th Street Court that the city annexed in 2009.

Currently, 10 acres of the site are zoned Residential Low-density and 13 acres are zoned Commercial Business. Henderson Burnham wants the entire 23 acres re-zoned as Residential High Transition.

Residential High Transition zoning would allow higher-density housing, including duplex, triplex and multi-family, as well as some other uses, such as independent-living and nursing facilities.

That would require a change to the city’s Comprehensive Plan. The planning commission will study Henderson Burnham’s proposal and recommend whether the council should revise the comp plan.

Many commenters oppose change

The council voted 6-1 at Monday’s meeting to send the proposal to the planning commission. Councilmember Jeni Woock voted no.

A dozen people spoke against the proposal during the meeting’s public comment period.  Woock noted that another 45 people opposed the project via written comments. Only Cheryl Ebsworth, representing Henderson Burnham LLC, spoke in favor.

Several council members mentioned that forwarding the proposal to the planning commission doesn’t imply support. It simply allows for further study, after which the commission would recommend whether to revise the comp plan and allow the project to move forward.

That could happen in May or June, according to a timeline provided by city staff. But planning commissioners have no deadline to decide, as the proposal will be reviewed as part of a routine 2024 comp plan update already underway. The council must complete and approve the update by the end of the year.

The public will have more opportunities to weigh in on the Henderson Burnham project during the planning commission’s review. The city council also will conduct another public hearing after the planning commission makes its recommendation.

‘Complete streets’ program

The council delayed action on an ordinance to formalize a “complete streets” policy that could give the city access to more grant funds.

Complete streets policies aim to ensure that city road projects are safe for everyone — including pedestrians of all ages and abilities, cyclists, motorists and public transportation users.

Complete streets also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a staff report.

Although the city has followed complete streets concepts for many years, the council has never formalized its adherence via ordinance. That will likely be remedied at the April 8 council meeting, when the council will vote.

Councilmember Le Rodenberg moved to adopt the ordinance Monday, but none of his colleagues seconded the motion. Woock and Councilmember Roger Henderson requested additional information from city staff.

Adopting the ordinance would make the city eligible for grants of up to $750,000 through the state’s Transportation Improvement Board. The next TIB grant cycle opens this summer.

Other business

• The council got its first look at an ordinance setting rates for the city’s Electric Vehicle charging stations. The city currently operates two, at the Maritime Pier and in the Finholm District. If the council approves the ordinance on April 8, the city would establish fees for EV stations and create a separate fund for money collected from them.

• The council unanimously voted to support Proposition 1, a request that voters raise the city’s sales tax by .01 percent on the Aug. 6 ballot. Revenues would support police and public safety.

• The city seeks volunteers to write for and against statements regarding Proposition 1 for the Pierce County voters pamphlet. The council will select three people for each statement on April 8. To apply, fill out this form on the city’s website.