Edmonds City Council delays action on Westgate zoning; approves new meeting format and formula for judge’s pay
By design, there was lots of talk and little action at Tuesday night’s Edmonds City Council meeting. Councilmembers delayed taking action on possible zoning changes for the Westgate neighborhood commercial area so they could allocate more staff time to a presentation regarding the city’s Shoreline Master Program, which will be the subject of a public hearing at the Sept. 16 council meeting.
That lengthy Shoreline Master Program presentation included a discussion regarding a proposed Interim Urban Mixed Use IV designation, which would prohibit residential development within shoreline jurisdiction around Edmonds Marsh and establish a 150-foot setback. City Planner Kernen Lien noted that staff had concerns about the 150-foot setback as it could limit future development of existing businesses at the adjacent Harbor Square Business Complex. For example, Lien said, the recent addition of a silo to American Brewing couldn’t have occurred under the proposed setback. Instead, staff is recommending that the setbacks be limited to 50 feet.
The other discussion involved the legal status of existing property lots and what happens if a lot is developed (or redeveloped) if it hasn’t first been legally created through the subdivision process. Lien noted that recently, there have been a number of properties where the legal status of the lot is in question and property owners have not been able to move forward with development proposals. The City of Edmonds’ definition of lot does not provide a clear criteria for determining legal lot status, he said, noting that this issue is not likely to go away as properties continue to be developed or redeveloped.
The council will hold a public hearing — also during its Sept. 16 meeting — on staff recommendations for addressing this issue, which include proposed code amendments to the definition of lot and a new definition for lot of record.
Councilmembers did take two actions of significance Tuesday night. First, they agreed by a 6-1 vote (Councilmember Lora Petso voting no) to replace the current system of council business meetings and once-a-month, information-only council committee meetings with a new system that involves two information-only work sessions that involve all councilmembers and two council business meetings. Second, they voted 5-2 (Councilmembers Petso and Joan Bloom opposed) to change the formula on which the Edmonds Municipal Judge’s salary is based. The current Edmonds Municipal Court judge’s salary — which is reimbursed from state court improvement account funds — is set at 95 percent of the salary for a full-time district court judge. The Edmonds judge’s position is a part-time (.55 FTE) position and paid on a pro-rated basis — currently $6,294 monthly. Mayor Dave Earling is proposing that the salary be based on a .75 FTE, since the city’s current Judge Doug Fair has indicated that number more accurately reflects his current workload.
Petso and Bloom indicated that they would rather have the salary adjustment be included during the development for the 2015 city budget. Other councilmembers said there was some urgency due to the fact that Fair — who is running unopposed for District Court — will leave his job soon and recruiting for a replacement would be easier with clear salary expectations.
As for those wondering what the future holds for Westgate zoning, that may be delayed a bit longer. Bloom indicated Tuesday night that she plans to pursue the idea of holding a town hall-type meeting on the issue to involve citizens further in the discussion.