By Debbie Klosowski, Mayor, City of University Place
Negotiations regarding the future sale and leasing of the City’s Town Center properties will continue to be handled by the Neil Walter brokerage firm under an agreement approved by the University Place City Council this week. The one year extension, which expires June 30, 2012, authorizes local broker Jeff Kraft to continue representing the City’s interests in the available Civic Center space and surrounding parcels.
Two public hearings regarding routine budget carry forwards (primarily from capital improvement projects that are still underway) as well as permit exemptions also came before Council.
Last June, the Council updated the “Building and Construction Code” to comply with changes in the International Building Code; however, some provisions were inadvertently left out which would allow certain grading, excavating and filling activities to be exempt from permit requirements. Council subsequently adopted this as a housekeeping measure.
Several questions arose, however, regarding proposed amendments to the Public Works Code.
One proposal, for example, would exempt any grading, excavating or filling involving less than 50 cubic yards or stockpiling less than 500 cubic yards of topsoil, bark and mulch per year (except in sensitive areas) from a site development permit providing that adequate measures are in place to prevent off site erosion and sedimentation. Several concerns were raised including the length of time a homeowner or developer could leave material on site as well as the impact on adjacent neighbors. Council will study the proposals further at a future study session.
During Monday’s study session, Council also forwarded the following issues to the Planning Commission:
Should liquor sales be allowed in the mixed use office zone? The mixed use office zone is meant to provide a transition zone between more intense commercial activities and residential areas. The Green Spot Tea House, located at 3318 Bridgeport Way, recently applied for a liquor license, which is not allowed under current code. Some issues include allowing businesses to expand certain services versus protecting residential areas from potential noise and alcohol related problems.
Housekeeping amendments regarding Town Center Overlay Design Standards, zoning, setbacks, parking lots, awnings and landscape buffers.
Existing nonconforming drive-through uses. Under the current Zoning Code, new drive–throughs are prohibited in the Town Center zone (between 35th and 44th Streets along Bridgeport Way). This action was taken several years ago to attain several adopted Town Center goals, including a pedestrian oriented area featuring higher quality retail, professional offices and entertainment uses. Existing drive-through uses and gas stations within the Town Center Zone are considered non-conforming. These uses can continue as long as the non-conforming use is not discontinued or replaced with another use for a period exceeding one year. (Exceptions are allowed in case of accidental fire or damage). Certain businesses which discontinued their drive-though usage are now interested in reinstating that feature.
Potential landscape buffers on Lot 1 adjacent to Homestead Park while preserving building options for potential future projects.
Maximum density options for Town Center overlay parcels (35th to 37th).
The Council also agreed to consider recent Planning Commission recommendations on the installation and location of electric vehicle chargers in the near future.
Green UP – Encouraging public organizations to adopt and support sustainable practices is a major component of a proposed Community Sustainability Plan presented to Council this week.
Since its inception last May, the Sustainability Advisory Committee has worked on developing a Community Vision for Sustainability. (Committee members include citizens as well as representatives from UP Refuse, Corporate Recycling Services, the library, school district, Tacoma Public Utilities, the City and West Pierce Fire & Rescue). Under the proposal, public entities are encouraged to focus on five major areas along with adopting specific goals and measurements to gauge their progress on achieving more sustainable practices:
Energy – Using low energy products such as Energy Star and locally produced products to reduce energy usage;
Environmental Health & Natural Resources – Encourage trash reduction by reusing and recycling; increasing parks and open space; and reducing air, water, soil, light and noise pollution;
Transportation – Increase safety for pedestrians and bicyclists; reduce amount of gasoline used; help maintain or increase public transportation;
Community vitality – Encourage responsible urban design; support local business, promote civic engagement;
Education and outreach – Increase awareness of residents, businesses and organizations regarding sustainable practices (such as the recent Envirofair).
Each government stakeholder (City, Library, Fire and School Districts) will consider adopting the vision along with the focus areas and goals. If approved, each organization will designate a key liaison to serve as an implementation coordinator. Participating agencies will then develop specific measurements and data collection to include in a joint annual sustainability report.
Results from a recent community survey indicated that our citizens strongly support efforts to improve sustainability in our community. We deeply appreciate the work of the sustainability committee and look forward to exploring how the City can participate in this important issue of meeting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
On a related note, residents can Explore UP using the Walk, Bike, Run, Have Fun Guide which is a full color map with numerous walking and biking routes made possible due to a grant from the Pierce County Health Department. Maps are available at City Hall and our Recreation Office.
Economic Development – Reviewing traffic impact regulations and other items to reduce impacts on new businesses as well as compiling business survey results.
PARC – 1st Annual “Cirque Slam” Girls’ Fast-Pitch Tournament scheduled for June 4 & 5 at Cirque Park and Curtis High School fields. All proceeds go to the U.P. Community Supported Parks & Recreation. Questions: Dave Gallagher 253.223.0039, or Tony Frigerio 253.224.8323.
Planning – Public hearing on drive-throughs in Town Center; consideration of rezones affecting manufacturing and light industrial areas.
Public Safety – All U.P. residents are urged to take a short survey on emergency preparedness at www.CityofUP.com.The commission will use survey results to fine-tune a community campaign to encourage people to be fully prepared for emergencies at home and on the road.
In other action, the Council:
Approved liquor license renewal applications for Narrows Plaza Bowl, Affairs Café & Bakery, Chambers Bay Grill, India Mahal and Walgreens.
Awarded a bid to A & R Solar for $25,595 to construct a 4.8 kilowatt solar panel system on the southern roof of the Civic Building. The system, which is 100 percent funded by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant and Bonneville Environmental Foundation Grant, will produce energy that will be fed into the TPU power grid and credited back to the City.
Presented UP for Art Chair Lori Forrest and Helen Hein with a ten year anniversary proclamation to commemorate the group’s efforts on promoting public art throughout University Place including acquisition of several sculptures, promoting local artists and providing opportunities for residents and businesses to appreciate art.
Random Acts of Peace! – Encouraging good deeds is behind the “Random Acts of Peace” campaign being sponsored by “Peace Out,” a local group composed of area young people. This month, group members are doing good deeds and passing out cards asking people to “pass on” a kind gesture to others. People are then invited to share their stories at www.MyPeaceOut.org, with the ultimate goal being 30,000 acts of kindness in 30 days. This outstanding group also works with teens year round to build teen philanthropists by assisting local nonprofit organizations.
U.P. Birthday Committee – An independent citizens’ group is taking the lead on sponsoring the U.P. Festival/Birthday celebration slated for Saturday, August 6, 2011 at Cirque Park.
Applications for vendors and local entertainment are being accepted. For information, please contact Caroline Belleci or Denise McCluskey.
South Sound 911 – Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy recently held a meeting to discuss the possible creation of a regional public safety agency. Right now, radio communication systems used throughout the County by various first responders (police and fire) are incompatible. There are also several “dead” areas as well as a need to modernize systems due to federal requirements.
Work is underway to fine-tune a proposal for a new regional public safety agency (South Sound 911) which could potentially replace the existing LESA system as well as other systems used by various jurisdictions. Establishing an integrated system for dispatch, radio communication and data collection would hopefully be less expensive and more efficient when dealing with emergencies. Funding for the new system is based on a voter approved 1/10th of 1 percent sales tax increase (one penny on $10 purchase) which will go before voters this November. More information will be forthcoming in the next few months.
Flood Control District – Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy and County Council Member Joyce McDonald met with a full contingent of area mayors to discuss a future Flood Control District. (The County Council dissolved the prior district after significant opposition from area cities regarding equitable distribution of costs and other issues).
County staff presented a case for regional cooperation in addressing flooding issues due to the widespread potential impact on our region such as closure of rail and transit lines, damage to primary businesses, effects on secondary businesses which are suppliers, lost income of people who live elsewhere but work in flooded areas or who may be unable to get to their jobs due to road closures, etc. Other flooding impacts could include rerouting truck traffic, resulting in grocery stores running out of items along with environmental issues such as raw sewage going into the Sound.
Several mayors from surrounding cities shared University Place concerns regarding a set fee for all parcels versus a prorated fee depending upon location, direct distribution of some funds to each city as well as flexibility on spending funds and representation on an advisory board.
County staff are currently prioritizing several flood projects along with developing a proposed budget and suggested amount for a future Flood Control District to levy. Although federal funding is likely, a significant local match would be needed for the projects. Additional information will be presented at a future City Council meeting.
National Drug Take Back Day – U.P. residents led the way in getting rid of unwanted and expired drugs during National Drug Take Back Day last month. Residents dropped off unwanted drugs at the U.P. Police Station, filling six boxes weighting 131.5 pounds (followed by South Hill station with 111 pounds and Edgewood with 62.5 pounds). People can continue to drop off unwanted drugs in the permanent drop off box located in the police department lobby during normal business hours.
Pasta for Parks & Recreation – Wednesday, May 18 from 4 to 8 p.m. presented by West Pierce Fire & Rescue and U.P. Police. Proceeds support U.P. Community Supported Parks & Recreation. For more information, contact 253.564.6373.
Junk in your Trunk – Clean out your closets and sell your stuff on Saturday, May 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Narrows Plaza Bowl parking lot. Purchase two parking spaces ($25) to participate with all proceeds going to the U.P. Senior Center. For more information, contact Jennifer at 253.564.1992.
Tragic U.P. loss – Finally, on behalf of the City Council, I want to extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Bryan Beale. An assistant principal at Drum Intermediate and member of our Public Safety Commission, Mr. Beale made a positive impact on countless people’s lives. He will be missed. A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, May 14, at 1 p.m. at University Place Presbyterian Church.
As always, I welcome your questions and comments. Please feel free to contact me at dklosowski@CityofUP.com.