Pullman City Council to ponder apossible construction moratorium

Al Sorensen

PULLMAN — Discussions regarding a potential construction moratorium in downtown Pullman highlight an otherwise light agenda for the Pullman City Council tonight.

The possibility of temporarily halting any new development in the downtown business district was raised during the council’s last meeting July 9. Given the ongoing efforts to turn downtown Pullman into a vibrant commercial/entertainment center, Councilor Al Sorensen said the city has to make sure its design standards and expectations are consistent with that goal.

“We’re spending a bunch of money to create a new downtown master plan,” Sorensen said. “We need to make sure any new construction fits with that. Now is the time, before it’s too late.”

In a memo prepared for tonight’s council meeting, Planning Director Pete Dickinson noted that “creating (new) design standards for private developments in the central business district is outside the scope of the current downtown master plan project.”

If the council wants to beef up or amend the existing standards, Dickinson said, that process would be handled by the Planning Department, with advice and input from the Pullman Planning Commission, as well as public hearings. Dickinson also noted that the use and development regulations within the central business district zone haven’t been updated since 2003.

“They were purposely adopted to allow for a wide variety of land uses with a limited set of restrictions, to encourage investment in the central business district,” he wrote.

The moratorium/development standards discussion is the last item on tonight’s agenda. Other agenda items include:

A presentation on mental health issues in Pullman by Mike Berney with Palouse River Counseling;

A discussion regarding potential parking restrictions near Kamiak Elementary School;

A resolution adopting proposed route changes for the Pullman Transit System, as well as a resolution approving a new pre-paid agreement with Washington State University. The agreement provides for a base fee of $2.28 million, which will allow WSU students, employees and retirees with a valid ID to ride the transit system without fare. That’s a 4.1 percent increase over the current year.

The council meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the City Hall council chambers, 325 SE Paradise St.

Spence may be contacted at bspence@lmtribune.com or (208) 791-9168.

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