Community News

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Downtown parking was the topic as the City Planning Commission deliberated on a proposed new two-building retail-office complex on Fourth St.

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(Artist Rendering: One of two new buildings)

Downtown parking was the topic as the City Planning Commission deliberated on a proposed new two-building retail-office complex on Fourth St.

3E Development wants to build two buildings, totalling about 11,000 square feet, on the property surrounding design firm How It Works on Fourth. Normally, city codes would require that the developer would also add 48 parking spaces for a complex of that size.

The Planning Commission Wednesday night okayed a variance that allowed fewer spaces. The City Planning Department had recommended that the developer be required to build just 16 on-site spaces and re-configuring Fourth St. to add nine more spaces.

During the public hearing, Mike Underwood, owner of Underwood & Associates, urged Anacortes to follow what many cities are doing by allowing fewer spaces. Underwood said “New spaces aren’t needed.” He said many cities have decided to try to get people to walk more and are requiring fewer or no new parking spaces for new businesses.

Planning Commissioner Clay Leming said he was concerned that a lack of parking downtown might lead to shoppers parking in nearby residential areas. And, he said “There is ample opportunity to redesign the site to allow more parking.”

Commissioner Bertis Rasco asked about the “in lieu” part of the variance, under which the city will charge the developer for each parking space below the number required by city parking regulations.

Deputy Planning Director Don Measamer said “This is the first time we’ve used in lieu payments. We’ve never done this before.” He said the city would negotiate an amount with the developer for each of the 17 parking spaces that won’t be built. He said the amount might be between $1,700 and $3,000 per space.

Measamer said the money would be put into a fund that might be used to acquire more land for parking or simply for re-configuring adjacent O Ave for angle parking.

The Commission approved a parking variance that requires the developer re-configure the north side of Fourth St. between O Ave. and Commercial for angle parking and in lieu payments, to be negotiated later. Leming’s was the only ‘no’ vote. The projects now moves to the City Council.

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