June 4, 2019 | Comp Plan, Subdivision Application and More
Posted on 06/14/2019

The Newcastle City Council roundups offer a digest of notable items for those who can't make it to the regular meetings. Listen to the audio from the June 4, 2019, meeting here and view the meeting agenda packet here. View past City Council roundups at newcastlewa.gov/councilrecaps.

COUNCIL ALLOWS LIMITED EXPANSION OF NON-CONFORMING BUSINESSES

The Council approved an ordinance that allows businesses such as Safeway or QFC to expand without moving their buildings to the street, something they cannot do under the current development regulations. When the Newcastle City Council adopted the Downtown Strategic Plan at the end of 2017, the vision called for a downtown that was more pedestrian friendly. The associated development regulations implemented a new standard to place downtown buildings as close as possible to the street, with parking located behind.

Many existing buildings are set back considerably further away from the street with parking located in front. Since these buildings, such as our local shopping centers, do not conform to new regulations, they are considered legally “nonconforming” under city code. Current City development standards restrict Safeway, QFC and other nonconforming businesses downtown from expanding, since the intent is for nonconforming structures to be phased out over time and replaced with development that meets the City’s vision.

The approved ordinance now allows limited expansion of such buildings without the requirement to meet the downtown design guidelines. This gives existing businesses an opportunity to expand, should they need more floor area to stay economically viable.

COUNCIL SETS COMPREHENSIVE PLAN AMENDMENT DOCKET

The City Council approved a list of topics for the annual review of Comprehensive Plan amendments. The Comprehensive Plan is a long-range plan that guides decision making to ensure steady progress toward achieving the City's desired future. The state's Growth Management Act limits review of proposed Comprehensive Plan amendments to no more than once a year. To ensure the public can view the proposals in a citywide context, the GMA directs cities to create a list (or docket) of Comprehensive Plan amendments that will be evaluated during the annual review process. The Council will review and consider the proposed amendments later this year. View the full docket here.

GENERAL UPDATES

— The Council approved an application for a 10-home subdivision on the west side of the City. The Enclave development will be accessed from 113th Avenue Southeast. Resources: Presentation to Council (PDF) | Agenda Bill | Preliminary Plat Plans (Diagrams/Maps)

— The City Council adopted a Public Engagement Strategy that outlines goals and initiatives regarding Newcastle’s communications practices. The new document codifies the City’s commitment to provide clear, consistent, timely and transparent communications. It includes a list of our communications tools and a how-to guide letting citizens know how to submit comments and receive news from the City. View it here.

— The Council approved a new online citizen request tool that would replace the current YourGov system. The SeeClickFix platform offers an improved user experience for both citizens and staff. It allows staff to collect more detailed information, locations and photos to better respond to resident requests through the service. SeeClickFix comes with its own Newcastle-specific portal and mobile app. Several neighboring agencies, including Sammamish and Mercer Island, use it. We’ll update the community once it’s ready to go live.

— Mayor Allen Dauterman appointed Paul Van Atta to the Planning Commission. He takes over the position left vacant when Commissioner Bryan Brewer resigned.

— The Aug. 6, 2019, City Council meeting is canceled so Councilmembers can attend National Night Out festivities.

The Newcastle City Council wants to hear from you! Members of the public are invited to share thoughts during public hearings or two open public comment periods at meetings. Regular meetings of the City Council occur on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at City Hall, starting at 7 p.m. You can also email your thoughts to councilmembers. To send a message to the entire council, email the city clerk at saram@newcastlewa.gov. You can also email them individually (view all councilmember emails here).  

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