Rolfes re-ups as council chair -- News Roundup

Rolfes re-ups as council chair

Christine Rolfes was tapped by her colleagues Wednesday to serve a second year as chair of the Bainbridge Island City Council.

Rolfes, who was elected unopposed to a second council term in November, was nominated by Councilman Bill Knobloch, who praised her as having the “trust, confidence and professional integrity” to lead the group.

Following the vote, the council unanimously approved Rolfes’ proposals for committee assignments for the coming year. Assignments include:

Land use – Debbie Vann (chair), Jim Llewellyn, and Rolfes; Public works – Knobloch (chair), Debbie Vancil and Llewellyn; Finance and personnel – Vancil (chair), Nezam Tooloee and Bob Scales; Community relations and public safety – Scales (chair), Vann and Vancil; Operations – Rolfes (chair), Knobloch and Tooloee; Capital facilities – Vancil (chair), Knobloch and Tooloee.

In brief comments, Rolfes said “all council members have leadership roles here, and have substantive roles to play.”

Committee meeting times have yet to be announced.

In a separate action, the council confirmed the reappointment of Tim Bailey, Dave Shorett and Dwight Sutton to second terms on the city Open Space Commission.

– Douglas Crist

Subdivision change passed

Conceding that it is not the last word on the subject, the City Council Wednesday approved changes to its ordinance for “long plat” subdivisions, those creating five or more lots.

In so doing, the council will let expire on Feb. 5 a moratorium on such subdivisions.

The new ordinance retains the so-called “flexible lot” design process, including a 30 percent open space setaside. It also includes an option for clustering home sites, and a “fee in lieu of” option where the open space option cannot be met.

Councilwoman Christine Rolfes, who helped craft the ordinance while serving on the council’s land use committee last year, described the finished product as “pretty good,” balancing development and conservation values.

But some argued that various provisions, including the 30 percent open space setaside, mirror those in a new short-plat ordinance that has already landed the city in court.

New guidelines for short-plat subdivisions, those creating four or fewer lots, were passed last fall, and the city was sued within a month; that action has yet to be heard in court.

The council had been working for more than a year to update its subdivision ordinance after the so-called “Camas decision,” in which the Washington Supreme Court struck down mandatory open space requirements in subdivisions.

Wednesday, several citizens spoke against the new ordinance, saying it was legally suspect and included terms too vague to be reasonably applied.

New council members Bob Scales, Nezam Tooloee and Jim Llewellyn also distanced themselves, abstaining from what turned out to be a 4-0 vote.

All three noted that they had not participated in drafting the ordinance, and had only recently begun studying the issues seriously.

The council’s land use committee is expected to review the new ordinance immediately, to address outstanding concerns.

– Douglas Crist

Ferry parking project OK’d

An expansion of the Winslow ferry terminal vehicle holding area, on-again, off-again for a decade, earned city approval this week.

The fill-and-asphalt project will expand the vehicle holding area by 300,000 square feet into Eagle Harbor, enough to accommodate 294 more cars, according to application documents filed with the city planning department.

A sewer pump station will be replaced by a larger, underground facility, with the addition of a new sewage vault for temporary storage of bilge waste from vessels.

The project received administrative approval from city Planning Director Larry Frazier this week. WSF first applied for permits in 1994, and a city hearing examiner recommended approval in 1999.

As a condition of approval, WSF will construct new pedestrian trails and sidewalks linking the terminal area with Harborview Drive and the Waterfront Park bridge.

A new, “temporary” overhead walkway will be constructed, allowing walk-on riders coming from Harborview Drive to cross over the vehicle holding area. The walkway would be upgraded in the future, when the aging walk-on ramp by which foot passengers now reach the vessels is replaced.

Timing of construction is unclear, and WSF planning officials could not be reached Friday.

– Douglas Crist

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