Shelton-Mason County Journal - Dedicated to the citizens of Mason County, Washington since 1886

Commission tables residential density vote


Mason County commissioners tabled a vote on Title 15 and 17 amendments related to the Shelton urban growth area after a public hearing at the Feb. 28 meeting.

According to the information packet, the Title 17 amendments are related to the Shelton urban growth area to allow higher residential densities within the Shelton urban growth area by use of the City of Shelton’s planned unit development standards. Title 15 amendments include amending the development code to add to the hearing examiner’s authority.

The amendments will encourage the development of housing. The Planning Advisory Commission recommended the amendments be forwarded to county commissioners for consideration and approval by a 4-1 vote at the Jan. 23 meeting.

“Mason County and the City of Shelton jointly want to encourage the development of housing within the urban growth areas, including Shelton urban growth area,” Mason County Community Development Director Kell Rowen said during the meeting while briefing the commissioners about the ordinance. “The county’s existing regulations are zoning regulations within the residential zones of Shelton limit the number of housing units so there’s more allowed than in the rural area, but it’s still a limited number. Staff is proposing we adopt the cities planned unit development standards under certain conditions so developers can take advantage of the higher residential densities.”

Shelton Community and Economic Development Director Jae Hill spoke during the public hearing, thanking Mason County staff for bringing this to the commissioners.

“We work closely with them on projects in the UGA, especially where there’s a request to extend our utilities from a municipal services perspective,” Hill said. “The city, just like the county, is interested in seeing more investment in our community and seeing more rooftops, more housing for all the holes of affordability so we support this as we think this is going to advance those goals.”

Mason County Economic Development Council Executive Director Jennifer Baria and Dragonwheel Investment Group Vice President Jim Schweickert spoke during the public hearing in support of the amendments. The county received letters of support for the proposed amendments from state Sen. Drew MacEwen, R-Union, Shelton RE/MAX’s Angela Barnes and Kristin French.

Commissioner Randy Neatherlin said he is supportive of every aspect of this but is worried about the county tax base.

“It’s definitely something that we need,” Neatherlin said. “There’s no way around that. The only way to handle some of our homeless issues is to have more homes but the only way to also move people around is to have different levels of homes for them to live in. I have an issue with something that occurs when this happens, I want to clarify, and hopefully, in my motion we can overcome it. The issue that I have with this is if we do all this, they will be forced to sign a piece of paper that gives away their right to contest annexation. To provide services to Belfair, we would never provide services with a letter that says they can never achieve incorporation or anything like that. It would be inappropriate. For us as the stewards of our tax base, we also have to worry about our own tax base in the future. If we automatically sign this thing, automatically cannot contest it, then five, 10 years from now, we’re sitting in a situation where things are going rough and without the ability to contest it, we could lose a huge, big chunk of our tax base.”

He said it’s also the commissioner’s job to protect the rights of their citizens and the right to choose if they want to be annexed is something that Neatherlin said he is not prepared to sign away.

“I’m not saying they shouldn’t annex, I’m just saying they should be given the right to discuss it and make the decision themselves. I have no issue with annexation in any way as long as it goes through the process of allowing them to make their own decisions,” Neatherlin said. “When you take that away from them, they no longer have that decision, we will have done a disservice to them if we move forward with this. We are talking about doing things jointly because we jointly believe that housing is needed. Well, we’ll give up this side of it to allow for that to happen, we need the city to give up that one clause and it can be done very easily by just having the clause in ours that says that the hearing examiner can examine this and ensure that there is no clause for no contest to annexation in order to move forward.”

Commissioner Sharon Trask recommended the commissioners table the public hearing and decision on the amendments until the March 14 meeting.

“I would like to reach out to the city and talk to them a little bit more because we have such a great relationship with the city right now,” Trask said. “For my comfort in passing this or going with your amendment, I would like to reach out to the city and just get a little more information from them.”

Commissioner Kevin Shutty was not in attendance. Trask and Neatherlin voted to table the public hearing and passage until the March 14 meeting.

Author Bio

Matt Baide, Reporter

Shelton-Mason County Journal & Belfair Herald
Email: [email protected]

Email: [email protected]


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