Help guide growth in the city

Published 4:34 pm Sunday, December 9, 2007

By Staff
For those who want to have a say about growth-related issues in Washington, opportunities to do just that appear to be coming up.
During its meeting Monday, the Washington City Council will consider setting dates for public hearings for temporary moratoriums, one on development located in proposed highway interchange overlay districts and another on the use of synthetic composite siding as a replacement for wood siding on homes located in the Washington Historic District.
City residents should participate in those hearings, if they are conducted.
At its October meeting, the Planning Board discussed the possibility of forming highway interchange overlay districts to help guide growth around the U.S. Highway 17 bypass interchanges in Washington. The Planning Board formed a subcommittee to discuss the possibility of implementing a temporary moratorium on development around those interchanges. At its November meeting, the Planning Board voted to recommend to the City Council that the council conduct a public hearing on whether to implement the moratorium.
The City Council’s concerns with development near the U.S. 17 bypass goes back to early 2006. That July the City Council implemented a temporary moratorium on approving development on properties within 500 feet on either side of the U.S. 17 bypass corridor boundary within the city’s jurisdiction. The moratorium was extended until Aug. 6 of this year.
Putting that moratorium in place was a good move by the City Council.
In early 2006, the council began discussing the need to protect the bypass corridor from unwanted development. Existing land-use control ordinances are not adequate to respond to expected increased development adjacent to the bypass, according to the city. Land uses along the bypass right-of-way are expected to include, but not be limited to, residential, commercial, industrial and institutional.
Those city officials are right. At that time, the city’s existing land-use controls were not adequate to respond to expected increased development adjacent to the bypass. Since then, the city’s land-use plan has been revised. It, to some degree, puts in place land-use controls in the bypass area that should be adequate to address development in those areas.
Having adequate controls in place will help that bypass corridor to develop in a way that’s attractive. City officials don’t want the corridor lined with all types of development.
Developing highway interchange overlay districts in which such controls would apply makes sense. It’s something the city should carefully consider implementing.
Like it or not, the U.S. 17 bypass is being built. Establishing the highway interchange overlay districts will give the city another tool to help guide and control growth in its jurisdiction.
In October, at the request of the Planning Board, the City Council imposed a moratorium on outdoor advertising signs in a heavy industrial (I1) zoning district inside the city limits and its extra territorial jurisdiction. That moratorium was implemented because the city found it necessary to provide for orderly growth and development with the anticipation of the bypass “by coordinating all public facilities in around” the heavy industrial zoning district, according to the ordinance implementing the moratorium.
It’s heartening to see city officials addressing more and more growth-related issues. Doing so, if it’s done right, will help preserve the quality of life enjoyed by many people who live in the city or near the city.
Whatever one’s opinions may be about growth-related issues in Washington, it’s good for the city for those opinions to be heard by city officials and others.
For those people who have wanted to have a say in how the city should grow, it appears like plenty of opportunities to speak up are coming up. It’s time to take advantage of those opportunities.