City Council to consider extending interchange moratorium

Published 9:28 am Friday, July 11, 2008

By Staff
Planning Board working on development rules for bypass interchanges
Contributing Editor
During its meeting Monday, the Washington City Council is scheduled to consider extending a temporary moratorium on development located in the proposed highway interchange overlay districts.
The request for the extension comes from the Planning Board, which wants the moratorium extended for 60 days to have more time to complete proposed guidelines for development in those districts.
In January, the council imposed a 121-day moratorium on development located in two highway interchange overlay districts that will be part of the U.S. Highway 17 bypass. That moratorium expired May 14.
One of the two interchange overlay districts for the bypass corridor will be located where the bypass intersects U.S. Highway 264 near the southern end of Whispering Pines Road. The other overlay district will be located where the bypass intersects U.S. Highway 17 adjacent to the northern end of Whispering Pines Road.
After the moratorium was imposed, the Planning Board conducted public hearings to allow property owners in the two districts and others to comment on what types of development should or should not be allowed in those areas. The Planning Board appointed a subcommittee to draft proposed development guidelines to help guide growth around the districts. The latest draft, dated July 1, has 13 pages.
That draft exempts single-family dwellings from the proposed guidelines. It limits the height of any commercial, industrial or office building to 45 feet. It prohibits manufactured, mobile, metal and nonresidential modular units except for temporary use during construction or for storage of materials during construction. The draft’s proposed sign standards were developed to regulate size, location, type, quantity and quality of sign elements within the districts.
The memorandum explains the purpose of the “draft” guidelines is to “encourage managed, sensible interchange development by providing protective measures that promote safety, minimize the impact to the natural environment, and promote highway beautification.”
In early 2006, the council began discussing the need to protect the bypass area 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 area are expected to include, but not be limited to, residential, commercial, industrial and institutional.
At the council’s January meeting, Jane Alligood, a member of the Planning Board but who said she was speaking as a city resident, said she wants to prevent the bypass area from becoming a “concrete jungle,” which is how she describes the existing U.S. 17 in Washington.
At that meeting, Austin Smithwick, with Park Boat Co., expressed some concern the moratorium could hamper commercial development in the districts. The moratorium halts new construction and additions to existing structures in the districts.
The council meets at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers at the Municipal Building, 102 E. Second St.