By BOB SMITH
Kitsap News Group
PORT ORCHARD — For the Port Orchard City Council members, their regular Tuesday evening meeting on June 27 marked a completion of sorts when they voted to approve a contract with Active Construction, Inc., to build the long-anticipated Tremont Street widening project.
After receiving the go-ahead from the state’s Department of Transportation and Transportation Improvement Board, council members voted unanimously to move forward with Active Construction’s $12,779,179.17 bid, which came in as the lowest confirmed package. An earlier bid by Scarsella Bros. Inc. of $11,472,645.19 was determined by the city to be “non-responsive” after finding the company’s bid calculations to be in error.
For Mark Dorsey, the city’s public works director, the milestone was gratifying after spending nine years of his work life advancing the project forward. But in a practical sense, Dorsey’s work is just beginning as he shifts gears to become an overseer of the project for the city.
“Congratulations, Mr. Dorsey,” said Mayor Rob Putaansuu at the council meeting following the vote. “You have a lot of work to do.”
The mayor also announced that the city will host a groundbreaking ceremony at 1 p.m. on July 7 to kick off the start of the construction phase. Putaansuu said members from the state’s 26th Legislative District delegation will be on hand to turn shovels at the event.
Earlier in the City Council meeting, bond attorney Alice Ostdiek of Stradling Yocca Carlson &Rauth, P.C. explained to council members her expectations for the upcoming sale of $6 million in limited tax general obligation bonds to fund the remainder of the Tremont construction project.
David Trageser of D.A. Davison, a Seattle-based financial services holding company and bond underwriter, also discussed how the bond transaction is expected to take place.
Trageser said the bond market is currently strong, especially with small-scale issuances similar to that by the city. He expects the bond sale to close Aug. 2 and funds delivered to the city later that month.
Following their presentation, council members unanimously authorized the bond sale at a rate no higher than 4.5 percent over either 15 or 20 years.
The City Council also approved another long-awaited change to the city’s current sign regulations by adopting a new sign code. The new specifications will take effect on July 1.
The significant update to the code was mandated by a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling stating local government sign regulations must be “content-neutral,” meaning that there cannot be different standards for sign size, location and length of installation “based on whether a sign’s words or logos are political, advertising, directional, etc.,” according to the city’s Department of Community Development staff report.
The new code also includes updates that provide consistency with other city code requirements and reflects changing technology and sign formats.
The public process toward reaching sign code consensus was extensive. A sign committee that included citizens and representatives from the business community and signage experts began its deliberations at the end of September. A draft sign code was vetted by the Department of Commerce and the city’s planning commission, and presented at a public hearing in June.
According to the staff report, the new sign code incorporates principles that facilitate creating “living and attractive places at a human scale” and support a mix of retail, office and residential uses in multistory structures.
Council members also adopted an ordinance that establishes single-family, duplex and residential fence standards.
According to the staff report, the fence design code has been formulated to support and strengthen “neighborhood character” and “provide aesthetically pleasing streets.”
Also adopted was a municipal code chapter related to dangerous and unfit dwellings, buildings and structures.
The new code changes in part provide a greater due-process protection for owners of structures by mandating a hearing before “a public officer” prior to an abatement order is issued. It also authorizes a city officer to have a lien recorded against a subject property, eliminating the “after-the-fact” public hearing before the City Council prior to a lien being recorded.
Other appeal mechanisms include appeals before the Building Board of Appeals and Superior Court.
The new code also establishes criteria for determining if a building or structure must either be demolished or repaired, and creates new enforcement measures that include civil infractions and criminal charges, which can be used in addition or as an alternative to abatement.