POULSBO — At its Aug. 16 meeting, the Poulsbo City Council employed a rarely-used regulation to declare an emergency and passed an immediate prohibition on the construction of additional self-serve mini-storage facilities in its C-3 commercial zone. The C-3 zone is the Highway 305 corridor inside the Poulsbo city limits. The zone includes such businesses as Central Market, Safeway and Poulsbo Village.
The interim ordinance, number 2017-15, will expire after six months, unless it is extended or a permanent regulation is adopted. The City Council will hold a public hearing on the ordinance at 7 p.m., Sept. 20 in the Council Chamber at Poulsbo City Hall, 200 N.E. Moe St., as required by law. Depending on the outcome of that meeting, additional meetings could be scheduled.
With the exclusion of the C-3 zone, the only areas where self-serve mini storage facilities can be built in Poulsbo are the C-2 Viking Ave. zone and the C-4 College marketplace zone. Storage units are already banned in C-1, the Downtown/Front Street zone.
The purpose of the C-3 zone
According to Planning &Economic Development Director Karla Boughton, the city had received three applications, one to expand the ProGuard Storage, 20554 Little Valley Road NE and two additional very large new facilities.
The mayor and City Council chose to take the interim ordinance approach — what Council Member Connie Lord called “a time out” — out of concern that such businesses are not appropriate for an area that was intended to be shops and businesses that draw in the public, employ larger numbers of people, and bring in additional tax revenue.
‘Putting the brakes on’
“The reason why we brought it forward as an emergency ordinance is that one of the [facilities] … is moving along quite expeditiously and the third one is so large they are already doing core drilling into the side of the hill in order to expedite those permitting processes. My sense is this could move along very quickly and that’s why we’re doing it this evening,” said Mayor Becky Erickson.
“It’s unfortunate they call it an emergency,” Erickson later said. “It’s really more of a ‘Time out, let’s regroup, what are we doing here?’”
“It’s not an emergency, but it is a time out,” Lord agreed. “I’m looking forward to the public hearing; to find out what the public has to say and get some more comments on it. However, if we don’t do something, we won’t have any choices.”
The situation is not a new one, said councilmember Jeff McGinty.
“This has happened to the city before when we’ve seen some sort of development process take place — what comes to mind is the condos downtown and there was no parking requirements for them — and we said ‘we’ve got to put the brakes on,’” McGinty said. “That doesn’t mean we’re not going to allow them, but we’ve got to put the brakes on this situation, take a look at it, and move forward either continuing the way it is or changing it before we allow any more of it because it was happening so quickly and it would have been too late to turn around.
“I kind of see the same thing with this,” McGinty said. “We see a lot of projects coming forward and there may be more coming in tomorrow. All we’re saying is ‘let’s put the brakes on it, do an analysis, hold a public hearing, see what the public wants … see if it conforms with the vision for the city.’”
“I’m a big supporter of self-serve mini storage,” said Councilmember Ken Thomas. “I’m a customer at a couple of them already, so I definitely see the need to have them … However, I’ve always felt that the siting of self-service storage in the commercial districts was not a good thing. They seem to me better suited to go in light industrial [zones] or business parks. I think this a good move, I support this. The existing [self-storage] businesses with the C-3 district are ‘grandfathered in’ [because] that is fair.”
“We’re looking at options. This isn’t a no,” agreed Councilmember David Musgrove. “I want the public to be aware that this isn’t just a knee-jerk reaction .”