Waterfront rentals get green light from staff and planning board – The Conner Weekly News
The New Town’s auditory examiner, David Lowell, began his tenure by reviewing a proposed waterfront project that enjoys a strong flow of local support.
City planner Michael Davolio and the planning commissioners have approved Chip and Janie Hall’s applications for shoreline and conditional use permits for the construction of a mixed-use building on First Street, just at north of Channel Lodge.
The Halls plan to build a 5,322 square foot water dependent structure on a private parking lot that provides mooring.
“The project,” Davolio said in a detailed staff report provided to Commissioners at their Zoom meeting last Tuesday, “proposes the development of short-term rental and laundry and washroom facilities for the marina, commercial use at ground floor facing the canal, with residential garages and storage facing First Street.
In brief remarks, Chip Hall called the short-term residential portion of the project “five Airbnb units on the waterfront.”
The plans call for 3,290 square feet of commercial use and 2,033 square feet of residential use on the main floor. Three separate residential apartments are offered on the second floor.
The commission unanimously supported Davolio’s recommendation that they approve and forward the project to Lowell.
“I think this sounds like a great project,” said commission chair Bruce Bradburn. “It’s an improvement over a gravel parking lot.”
Commissioner Rick Dole agreed, saying, “I have looked at it in detail and it will be a big improvement.”
Lowell heard the proposal Thursday and will likely render a decision by the end of this week, Mayor Ramon Hayes said.
In a separate proposal, Davolio said the Halls were seeking an administrative waiver related to the parking requirements for the residential uses of the project.
This request will be processed after Lowell renders its decision on the shoreline and conditional use permits.
Project applicants may be charged a monetary assessment instead of the required parking spaces that they are unable to provide.
“There will be money involved,” Davolio noted, jokingly, “Sorry, Chip.”
The Hall project, Davolio said, would be located just outside the historic preservation district of La Conner.
The commission was due to hear a presentation from Rachel Cram, a student at La Conner High School, on the feasibility of using QR codes on local historic buildings to provide the backstory of each structure to citizens and tourists. However, Cram was unable to attend a Lady Braves basketball game that night. She was postponed to appear before the commission on June 15. Davolio said Cram’s proposal did not require official city approval. “Our research on the city’s historic district and sign regulations suggest that such signage would be defined as a commemorative plaque. These signs do not require City approval as long as they measure less than three square feet. ”
Davolio suggested that Cram make a presentation to the commission on his project and she will be assisted by Hayes. “His great-grandparents went through a lot of this history,” Hayes told The Weekly News, “So it’ll be great to have information that’s different from what we’re used to having.”
Davolio said a joint meeting of town planning and parks commissions in July is scheduled to discuss the parks and recreation component of the city’s overall plan. “For me,” Davolio said, “this cannot go forward without the review and input from both commissions.”