Pasco council sends zoning appeal back to planning commission

Pasco, Wash. -- The Pasco Planning Commission will take another look at a rezoning appeal that would allow new apartments.

The planning commission recommended changing 3.5 acres on Charles Avenue from commercial and low-density residential to higher density that would allow apartments to be built.

In a special meeting Monday evening, the Pasco City Council voted to send the appeal back to the planning commission.

The rezoning would allow buildings up to 35 feet tall, and several council members were concerned a new apartment building would dwarf the houses in the neighborhood.

The council is asking members of the planning commission to re-evaluate the zoning request and recommend a height limit for all or parts of the proposed apartment building and analyze the full effect the multi-family housing would have on the school district.

Mayor Matt Watkins, who cast the lone vote against sending the zoning appeal back to the planning commission, said, "It doesn't seem fair to restrict the height. We need to consider all the property owners, those who are there now and those in the future."

The council then went into a workshop meeting to discuss the Lewis Street overpass project.

Deputy City Manager Stan Strebel said the city already has acquired much of the land necessary at the intersection of Oregon and Lewis streets with the exception of 2,100 square feet on the northwest corner, where the Econo Mart is located. The land is owned by Amrik S. and S.K. Sihota, who did not attend the council meeting.

"Other property owners have already sold small parcels of land on each of the three other corners," Strebel said. "We have talked to the owner of the land on the northwest corner, and he seemed agreeable at first but has become unresponsive to phone calls and letters."

The land is needed to align the overpass to align with Oregon Avenue.

City staff is recommending the council initiate condemnation proceedings.

Once the city files with the courts and a notice of condemnation is delivered to the owner of the land, the city can establish a value and make an offer. If it's not accepted, a trial would take place to set a price for the land.

"He can accept the city's offer or make his own anytime," Strebel said.

-- Loretto Hulse: 509-582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com