The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Dena Martin
The Times 

Waitsburg Planning Commission is Back in Business

Commission is preparing to update city's comprehensive plan, encouraging public input

 


WAITSBURG – Waitsburg Planning Commission Chair Karen Gregutt reminded City Council members at their June 20 regular council meeting that a full review of the city's comprehensive plan and development regulations is just around the corner. She said the commission is hoping for strong public participation throughout the process.

"It's a very extensive effort. We need people to roll up their sleeves and participate in order to have a very proactive, citizen-based and robust advisory committee," Gregutt said.

Gregutt has served on the commission for five years, excluding a short break while she served on City Council. Current commission members include Stan Bly, K.C. Kuykendall, Bill Rodgers, Larry Johnson and Brian Callahan.

Gregutt said one seat is currently vacant, and she anticipates that one or more seats will open up in the near future. She encourages anyone interested in serving on the commission to attend one of the meetings. The commission, which meets the second Wednesday of each month at noon at the Lions Building, will resume regular meetings in August.

The planning commission is an advisory board whose members volunteer their time to review development codes, the comprehensive plan and requests for variances, Gregutt said.

"When the [city] council wants a review board, we meet, and we meet with the public if they have an issue and want to bring it to the commission. We support the council with advice on solutions, offer suggestions and interpretation. The Council then votes on our recommendations," Gregutt said.

In the best of instances, the commission is able to serve as a mediator, as in a recent dispute between property owners on Preston Avenue. The manager of the apartments located behind Whiskey Canyon Sports Bar & Grill complained of truck noise disturbing his residents. Following a public hearing on the matter, the city council referred the issue to the planning commission to address and return with a suggested solution.

"The owners of the restaurant came to a meeting, as did the manager of the apartments. Everyone listened, and it was a positive, friendly discussion," Gregutt told The Times. "Instead of having the planning commission make a recommendation based solely on code, and possibly not in the best interest of either party, we were able to come up with simple and effective solutions that both parties were happy with.

Another recent case involved a re-zone on Preston Avenue, from R1-Residential to Flexible C-R (commercial residential), to allow for the operation of a hobby repair business.

"We spent most of a year on that case and went to great lengths to come up with conditions that served everyone's best interests," Gregutt said. "We wanted to give the [property owner] the best outcome with the least amount of effort, while caring for the health and safety of the residents in the area, especially children."

Gregutt said the Commission will start putting together a plan to review the city's comprehensive plan and development codes next month.

"We want to make sure that nothing is painfully outdated or contradictory," she said.

Gregutt said the Commission will design a structure for people to have the opportunity to participate in the updates, and she hopes for strong community participation.

"Waitsburg is growing, like every other small town. We need to do so thoughtfully. We want to respect the agricultural and historic nature of Waitsburg first and foremost," she said.

The public is welcome to attend all planning commission meetings. Anyone interested in serving on the planning commission, or learning more about the process, is encouraged to contact Gregutt at kstanton@mac.com, or contact Randy Hinchliffe at city hall at (509) 337-6371.

 

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