At the June 27, 2012 meeting, staff presented an overview of policies and regulations relating to the current downtown zone district system including
- Regional Growth Center policies outlined in Vision 2040
- City Comprehensive Plan policies established in the Downtown Revitalization Element
- implementing zoning standards in the Puyallup Municipal Code; and
- associated Downtown Design Guidelines.
The presentation and discussion was followed by a walking tour of downtown Puyallup.
On July 25, 2012 staff facilitated continued discussion of this topic. This meeting included:
- debriefing from the downtown walking tour conducted in June;
- review of Council's direction to the Planning Commission;
- review of the Planning Commission and City Council work done in 2005 and 2006 related to downtown zoning;
- review of various options the Planning Commission might choose to move forward with at this time; and
- overview of a sample review process based on Planning Commission feedback given at the June 27 meeting.
At the August 22, 2012 meeting, the Planning Commission continued their review of Downtown Heights. Staff gave a review of the upcoming public outreach process on this topic, including the scope of a Commission-requested public meeting and related issues. Their discussion centered on the questions staff would use to create a survey online for citizen participation in this process.
On September 26, 2012, Planning Commission had a brief follow up session to refine the public survey questions.
In October, staff introduced the online survey and held an Open House meeting on October 17, 2012. Nine people attended the Open House, and there were 93 responses to the online survey.
At the November 28, 2012 meeting, the Planning Commission continued their review on building heights-zoning and the results of the open house and online survey, and had a quick introduction to the City’s Special Tax Valuation, a topic raised by City Council during their discussions of building heights.
At the January 9, 2013 meeting, the Planning Commission continued their review of downtown building heights, with an emphasis on downtown historic preservation standards. They also heard more from staff on the special tax valuation, which is a state-enabled program allowing a multi year property tax reduction for the provision of new housing units in the downtown area, within certain qualifications.
On February 12, 2013, City Council held a study session on the topic, including considering input from the Planning Commission. At that time, the following feedback was taken from the City Council:
- The majority of City Council did not advocate changing the existing downtown building height allowances or the basic underlying zone district system
- The majority of City Council supported the intent of the current downtown design guidelines and the role of the Design Review & Historic Preservation Board in implementing those guidelines
- A majority of the City Council confirmed that the key is to "protect the feel" of the historic downtown. Multiple Councilmembers noted that "just because a building is old doesn't necessarily mean it has historic quality" and also supported flexibility in the standards so that building owners aren't restricted from performing remodels/additions that help a property's long-term financial viability
- A consensus of the City Council supported use of a zoning overlay as the best tool for "protecting the feel" of downtown; such an overlay would cover 1-2 blocks on either side of Meridian between around Stewart and Pioneer. Specific direction on the intent/focus of this overlay was limited, however