In the last days of 2015, the City of Auburn adopted a comprehensive plan that included a new land use map designation of “open space, but without a corresponding zoning district that addressed the allowed uses and zoning development standards.
On Monday the Auburn City Council established that open space zoning district, mostly on public property. Many of the parcels are found along the Stuck, the White and the Green rivers.
Jeff Tate, interim director of community development and public works for the City of Auburn, said the zoning designation limits what kind of development activity can occur on the properties.
“But it’s really important to note that this is almost exclusively public property, so it doesn’t really affect much, if any, private property,” Tate said. “But even with public property, you have different types of uses, from a baseball park to something that’s very passive, so you still want to have controls in place that govern what that open space could be used for.
“So, these types of open space properties are those that remain relatively intact; not a whole lot of activity can occur there. So, we’re talking about things like trails, interpretive centers, kiosks, parking for those who want to visit the trail, but not like removing trees and filling in wetlands to build baseball parks and soccer fields,” Tate said.
In general, the open space zone applies to parcels that are largely undeveloped, enfolding natural and urban conservancy shoreline areas, significant wildlife habitats, large stormwater detention ponds or floodplain ponds, utility corridors with public access, watersheds, or areas with significant development restrictions.
The City of Auburn owns most of these parcels, which generally have a critical area, like a wetland or geologic hazard area, utility infrastructure, or are within the shoreline jurisdiction and subject to the city’s shoreline master agenda.
Most of the parcels that the City doesn’t own are government-or-utility-owned parcels with infrastructure like transmission lines. What remains are privately owned and encompass either a critical area like a wetland or a geologic hazard, feature a split-land use designation because of the shoreline of the White River, or were originally set aside as open space per previous plat requirement.
The Planning Commission held public meetings on Jan 4, 2017, March 7, 2017, and April 4, 2017. During a public hearing on July 5, 2017, the Planning Commission addressed comments offered by the City’s Parks , Arts and Recreation Department, its Economic Development Department and Nancy Bainbridge Rogers, representing Mark Segale, a private property owner.
At the Aug. 8, 2017 continuance of that public hearing, the Planning Commission deliberated and in making its recommendation for approval to the City Council modified the staff recommendation for Council approval by stipulating that City of Auburn staff would continue to coordinate with private property owners Andrew and Elena Chernyand the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe.
The Planning Commission’s recommendation recognized that the proposed zoning code language and zoning map amendment does not affect “Indian Lands” and is “not intended to, usurp or exercise land use control over such lands.” The intent of the text and map amendment is to identify what zoning or land-use provisions would apply to such lands were they not under Indian jurisdiction, or were the land to change in ownership or jurisdictional character.
On Dec. 18, 2017 the City Council adopted the 2017 annual Comprehensive Plan annual amendments, which changed the land use designation of numerous parcels that that had been included in the “Open Space” The parcels modified , were originally incorrectly designated during the 2015 Comprehensive Plan mapping update were removed from this proposed open space zoning map amendment.