City Council plans to revise the city’s development codes drew comments against the possibility of so-called big box stores in Anacortes.
About a dozen people testified at Monday night’s public hearing on revisions to Development Regulations, several spoke out against allowing larger retail stores in town.
Randy Burgess, the owner of the Anacortes Ace Hardware, urged the Council to carefully consider the change which would lift a 50,000 square foot limit on retail buildings in the Commercial Zone south of Cap Sante Marina. Burgess said he employs 28 full time workers and some may need to be laid off if a big box store comes to town. He said “We’ve contributed to sales tax here and put millions and millions of dollars in payroll into the local economy.”
Bunny Heiner said that the changes the Council is considering would “destroy the unique nature of Anacortes by allowing big box stores to come in.” And, she said she is against allowing any non-marine business to move into the commercial marine zone, adding “One of these days we’re going to need the marine zones.”
Andy Rothman told the Council that he’s been in Anacortes only five years and was attracted by Anacortes’ unique appeal. He said he was surprised the Council would consider allowing big box stores in town.
Some Council members are reconsidering changes they preliminarily approved last summer, including one provision that would cap the total amount of retail space in the Commercial Marine zone at 100,000 square feet. Retail would be allowed only as a conditional use with approval from the City Planning Commission and City Council.
Council member Nick Petrish explained that he wanted to lift the 50,000 square foot limit on retail buildings in the Commercial Marine zone because no one has brought a plan to the city to build there and he hopes with the higher limit that something will happen.
The Council will discuss the development regulations at its next meeting on Dec. 8, then vote at their Dec. 15 meeting.