Controversial High Density Rezoning In East Wenatchee Blocked
A controversial zoning change in East Wenatchee faces more hurdles after being rejected a second time by the City Council Tuesday night.
The city Planning Commission had recommended the 800 block of Devon Avenue be rezoned to allow for high density housing as proposed by a landowner.
The recommendation was specifically to change the zoning from Residential Low Density to Residential High Density/Office.
The planning commission voted 4-1 in favor of the change.
The City Council formally rejected the rezoning proposal by a 4-2 vote Tuesday, although the landowner still has options.
The council initially rejected the proposal last month, but the move came with a motion for as hearing.
The required hearing took place Tuesday evening and lasted almost two-and-a-half hours with presentations being made by city staff followed by the landowner and applicant for the zoning change, Braden Draggoo. The hearing also included public comments, which was mostly made up of neighboring residents.
A total of 14 neighbors on the block had previously signed a letter in opposition to the change.
Among those neighbors speaking Tuesday was Andy Melsness, who said the street can't handle high density housing.
"If you guys have been down that road, very, very narrow road," said Melsness. "We've had accidents. Snow removal's a nightmare. Just this summer, one of the garbage trucks hit somebody's fence and had to replace it."
Melsness also said Draggoo knew the neighboring residents were uniformly against the zoning change proposal, but never bothered to reach out to them in any attempt to find common ground.
Mr. Draggoo took his time to point out the surrounding area is all zoned for high density, and said he would have to meet specific requirements once the zoning was changed in the block.
"Just because we change this to high density, does that change anything for the existing people that live in that neighborhood, absolutely not," said Draggoo. "I still have to go through a whole process to be able to put in there what I want to be able to put in there."
Draggoo acknowledged that he could be forced to downsize the housing units at a later date if it was determined the neighborhood infrastructure could only handle a six or seven plex as opposed to 16 apartment units.
A single-family home currently sits on the property.
As legally required, the city council produced a "finding of fact" to support their motion for denial.
Council member John Sterk provided to verbiage in the finding of fact.
"It has been said that the area proposed for residential high/office use does not have the necessary services, such as storm water drainage or fire hydrants.
Without storm drains or fire hydrants on the street in question, and no emergency vehicle turnarounds, the subject property does not seem to be served with a full range of urban services.
There is a reasonable probability that a change in the land use designation will have more than a moderate effect on the environment.
Additionally, it must be remembered that the current members of the neighborhood are in complete opposition to this proposal."
The findings were formalized in a resolution rejecting the proposal to change the zoning.
Council members Shayne Magdoff and Sasha Sleiman voted against rejection of the proposal.
Draggoo is still not out of options in trying to get his property rezoned.
He could still appeal the city council's decision to the growth management hearings board or the Douglas County Superior Court