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Kennewick to take another look at riverfront plan

Kennewick is revisiting previous plans to revitalize the city’s waterfront.

Some of the so-called Bridge to Bridge, River to Rail area plan may need updating and adjusting, Kennewick City Council members were told recently.

Since the plan was first drafted, the Port of Kennewick and the city have jump started development of a boutique wine village north of Columbia Drive near Duffy’s Pond and Clover Island.

The port recently demolished buildings, asphalt and concrete to make way for three winery-related buildings for the Columbia Gardens project.

Kennewick likely will hold two open houses in May and June so the public can consider and comment on the proposed plan, said Anthony Muai, city planner.

The city council also will need to hold a public hearing before considering adopting the plan.

Proposed public improvements

Part of the draft plan calls for make the entrances to the area between the cable and blue bridges more attractive.

Better signs also could be used to direct drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians to Clover Island, Columbia Park and other attractions and public places.

Shoreline improvements between the bridges also are part of the plan.

Among the suggestions is to create some sandy beach areas along the shoreline, Muai said.

The goal is to make improvements that would add to fish habitat and make the area more attractive.

The proposal also includes creating more off-road trails for pedestrians and bikes and changes to roads to create more of a grid system.

Traffic on Columbia Drive could be improved by adding medians or curbing to limit some of the turns, he said.

The city also could widen sidewalks, add underground utility lines where possible and install curb, gutters and sidewalks to roads that currently lack those features, Muai said. Bike lanes also could be added.

And planting trees in medians and along the sidewalks of Columbia Drive is another suggestion.

Proposed zoning

The bridge to bridge plan also would mean changing current zoning in the area.

The city last summer changed the zoning of north Columbia Drive between the blue and cable bridges to a commercial community zone instead of a general commercial zone as an interim step while the city worked on a plan for the area.

The zoning change met with resistance from auto businesses because the change means some auto service shops aren’t allowed, so the expansion of existing shops would be limited and new ones couldn’t open.

Muai suggested finding a better way to create the intended “auto row” that would better fit the mix of existing businesses that offer auto sales, services and repair.

The draft plan calls for creating new mixed-use zones at low-, medium- and high-density. Most of the property between the river, rail line and blue and cable bridges would become one of the mixed-use zones.

That would allow commercial uses on the ground floors, with offices or residences on the upper floors, Muai said.

The idea is to create a community that is more geared toward pedestrians and allows for a live-work-play environment. Plazas, public seating and on- and off-street parking would be encouraged.

Height limits would be proposed for buildings and would vary based on the density, Muai said.

For example, a building in a low-density mixed-use zone could be four floors while high-density would allow up to nine floors. The height limit can be increased to five levels in the low-density area and 12 for the high-density area if there is housing on upper floors for families at or below 80 percent of the area median income.

Allowing only on-street parking, parking decks and parking garages is suggested but problematic, Muai said.

The existing residential neighborhoods north of the rail lines near Canal Drive and west of Fruitland Street would become low-density residential property.

Muai said some of the residential property is currently high-density, but the neighborhoods are a mix of apartments, duplexes and single-family houses.