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Zoning, comp plan changes bring on the compromises

In a marathon meeting Wednesday, the Bremerton City Council approved emergency amendments and zoning changes that are the final steps in updating the city’s comprehensive plan.

Both were met with opposition from property owners, but compromise prevailed.

The proposed zoning changes were a culmination of a year’s worth of work and were approved with five amendments from the planning commission and one change from the City Council.

Most of the debate centered around the proposed reduction in building heights outside Bremerton’s downtown core. The area of contention included Highland and Pleasant Avenues just north of Sixth Street. According to the original amendment, the building heights would be reduced from 120 feet to 40 feet.

“Highland has some of the city’s oldest and unique homes. It’s a street worth preserving that character,” said Councilwoman Wendy Priest. She said the 40-foot limit was not an arbitrary number from the planning commission, but one based on the existing structures in that area.

Some said this would put the brakes on development in that area.

Shane Schrodt, who owns 19 properties on Highland and Pleasant said he and his neighbors have invested in the community and believed a condominium project would fall through if a 40-foot height restriction were put in place. Several residents spoke in favor of the 60-foot limit.

Councilman Mike Shepherd pointed out what he believes is the larger issue — that the city has not developed its neighborhood plans including design standards.

“You’re not the only developers ... we don’t want to have a monolith building next to single family homes,” he said.

The council voted unanimously to allow a 60-foot building height in the area north of Sixth Street east of and abutting Pleasant Avenue. With it, council members enacted a 60-day moratorium to consider design guidelines.

A contingent of Emmanuel Apostolic Church members voiced their concerns over rezoning of the church property to low-density residential. The church has plans to incubate small businesses and the residential zoning would endanger their plans, said Pastor Larry Robertson.

“The nature of our ministries is such that we empower people,” he told the council.

“We urge you not to tie our hands and keep us from being a player in the community,” he said.

The council voted to designate the area as institutional. It later voted to have city staff report back no later than Jan. 1, 2006 on how to include the “incubator business” as allowable under low-density residential. The other four amendments:

• Set out allowable densities for fringe properties not yet developed

• Outlined residential cluster development

• Establishes a master development zone for Eastpark and Westpark developments.

• Allows for satellite parking lots used by the public to be placed within residential areas.

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