Kennewick council puts 90-day hold on bridge-to-bridge development

Tri-City HeraldApril 16, 2014 

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The Kennewick City Council recently approved a 90-day moratorium on building permits for new projects on properties between Columbia Drive and the Columbia River and the blue and cable bridges.

TRI-CITY HERALD FILE

— No new development is allowed in Kennewick's bridge to bridge area for the next three months.

The Kennewick City Council approved a 90-day moratorium on building permits for new projects on properties between Columbia Drive and the Columbia River and the blue and cable bridges in a 6-1 vote this week.

The moratorium is meant to protect the redevelopment vision of the area where the city and Port of Kennewick hope to inspire the beginnings of a boutique wine village on Columbia Drive.

City staff had recommended a six-month moratorium to give the city time to change the zoning for the area to commercial community.

The current zoning, commercial general, dates back to the 1970s, and allows industrial uses, such as warehouses and laydown yards, areas where materials such as pipes are stored in the open, said Greg McCormick, the city's planning director.

The ban could be lifted early, after the city finishes zoning changes in the next few months.

But Tim Bush, owner of Tim Bush Motor Co., expressed concerns about how the proposal could affect his plans to put his corporate office in downtown Kennewick, along with a car wash.

The land is under contract but he said he has not submitted the building permit yet. The moratorium went into effect Wednesday.

Bush said it's the first of six buildings he plans for Kennewick, adding 20 jobs at first and a couple hundred eventually. His project also could help draw traffic to other nearby businesses.

He said he was concerned the moratorium would kill the momentum on his project. He said he's had that happen before, and then the project did not end up getting built.

"I do believe it has the potential to stop progress," he said.

Kennewick Mayor Steve Young said he could only support a 90-day moratorium.

"I have a real problem with that six-month time frame," he said.

Bush told the Herald on Wednesday that he appreciates what the council was trying to do by decreasing the time period. But he said there is uncertainty about what will happen after those 90 days are over.

"It's really making me second guess whether it was the right location or not," he said. "I was really gung ho."

He said he has to question whether he should go forward with a different location.

City Manager Marie Mosley said there was a risk that without the moratorium, applications could come in that would be contrary to the vision the city council has for the area.

The temporary hold on building permits will provide the necessary safeguards while a zoning change is considered for the bridge to bridge area, said Tana Bader Inglima, the port's director of governmental affairs and marketing.

It's important to make sure development in the area will fit with the vision for the bridge to bridge area the community has been promised, she said.

The council did alter the proposal so it would not apply to building permits for improvements and additions to current businesses and homes in the area.

Councilman Greg Jones said that while it is important to protect the riverfront property, he wants the moratorium done fast to limit the effect on people who plan to bring businesses to the area like Bush. He also wanted the impact minimized on current property owners.

Councilman John Trumbo, who voted against the moratorium, asked about the last time an application came through for the area that would represent a significant change. But city Councilman Bob Olson said there had been such proposals in the past.

The Port of Kennewick and city are working to jump-start a boutique wine village at Columbia Gardens, about six acres of port-owned land in the middle of Columbia Drive that used to be the home of Beaver Furniture and the Chieftain Apartments.

The city will build a wine waste water treatment and finish the trail around Duffy's Pond, while the port plans to prepare two buildings, one for boutique wineries and one for art incubator space.

Officials said they hope to have the facility and the first building for boutique wineries ready by crush in 2015.

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