Citizens voice support of rezoning

People packed into the City Council chambers Nov. 18, spilling into the lobby, while the council heard testimony concerning a rezone of Inlet Island and the Church Lake area.

Inlet Island and Church Lake citizens ask for change to R-1 zoning

People packed into the City Council chambers Nov. 18, spilling into the lobby, while the council heard testimony concerning a rezone of Inlet Island and the Church Lake area.

Citizens from Inlet Island held up signs supporting a zoning change from R-2, residential-2 to R-1. R-2 allows higher densities in neighborhoods including duplexes. R-1 is principally for single-family homes.

Citizens from the Church Lake area also spoke in favor of rezoning the area to R-1.

Chuck Kirkdoffer, an Inlet Island resident, pointed out the island is the only community surrounding the lake zoned R-2.

Melissa Johnson, also from Inlet Island, said the “character of the island has changed over the years from summer occupants to people who live here year round.”

Johnson noted property owners believe changing to R-1 will “protect the character of the island.”

James Chaney from the island said changing the area to R-1 will help create a “low density, water-loving community.”

Craig Sarver from the Church Lake area also spoke in favor of changing that area to R-1.

“Homes are severely impacted by duplexes,” Sarver said. “It is a quality of life and liberty to citizens in Church Lake.”

The Planning Commission voted unanimously Oct. 1 in favor of the change to R-1 for the Church Lake neighborhood. The vote is a recommendation to the council and is not binding.

The commission had voted earlier not to recommend changing Inlet Island to R-1, but Mayor Neil Johnson said that was before all the information on densities came before the council and commission members.

When Johnson was a member of the City Council in 2003 and 2004 he brought the zoning change of Inlet Island before the members, but the issue was not passed.

“At the time we didn’t have the information to make the right decision,” Johnson said.

One of the issues that has been raised concerning Church Lake is accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, which are also known as mother-in-law apartments. Currently with the city’s R-1 zoning, ADUs cannot be built, but are allowed in R-2.

Councilman Dan Decker, who represents both the Church Lake area and Inlet Island, had said at a Sept. 19 open house event at Allan Yorke Park that he did not support changing to R-1 in Church Lake because of the ADU issue.

Decker said at that time he had fought the city for years over building an ADU on his property in Church Lake. The councilman said he now has the permit for the ADU.

The councilman presented a document to the council at Oct. 21 workshop with signatures from people in the Church Lake area who wanted to stay R-2.

None of the speakers at the Nov. 18 meeting spoke in favor of the keeping the Church Lake area R-2.

Decker said following the Oct. 21 workshop he would vote according to the “will of the people.”

During the Nov. 18 meeting, Decker stated he was happy to see the people let the council know what they wanted for their neighborhoods.

Johnson said the change to R-1 for the two neighborhoods is “long overdue. It lets our neighborhoods get back to being neighborhoods and it gives us a clear focus where we need to go in the future.”

The measure to change the Church Lake neighborhood and Inlet Island to R-1 along with other Comprehensive Plan amendments will come before the council for a vote at the Dec. 9 meeting.

Reach Dennis Box at dbox@courierherald.com or 360-802-8209.

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