The 21st Street town hall, a change in subdivision code language and the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee’s (LTAC) 2023 tourism fund recommendations were among the most significant agenda items discussed by the Chehalis City Council at its meeting Monday night.
Chehalis Planning and Building Manager Tammy Baraconi broke down the main concerns voiced by residents at the 21st Street town hall last week. The concerns included: the actual condition of the street itself; the lack of sidewalks; bright lighting from the development that has already been built and the addition of more; stormwater flooding and whether the current sewer lines will be able to handle the addition of 52 more apartments; and traffic, specifically during school hours.
Baraconi explained that the developers, K&W Properties LLC, were already working on addressing the lighting issue with the apartments in the area already built. Mayor Pro-Tem Bob Spahr spoke about his experience attending the town hall.
“I think the thing that’s really important is that this wasn’t just a bunch of ‘NIMBYs’ who didn’t want this project in their backyard. In fact, a couple of people when they were speaking complimented the developer for reinvesting in our community. These are legitimate concerns that I think we have to look at and address,” Spahr said.
Chehalis Administrative Assistant Cassie Frazier gave a brief presentation on the LTAC’s tourism fund recommendations for next year.
“The projected beginning fund balance was $117,600 and 2022 estimated revenue was $290,000 so our total estimated funds are $407,600,” Frazier said.
She then walked the council through LTAC’s funding recommendations for various local agencies’ funding requests. The Chehalis-Centralia Railroad and Museum requested $50,000 and LTAC recommended $50,000.
The Centralia-Chehalis Chamber of Commerce asked for $45,000 but LTAC recommended $15,000.
The Lewis County Historical Museum asked for $35,000 and LTAC recommended the same amount.
Experience Chehalis requested $49,700 and LTAC recommended their requested amount.
The Veterans Memorial Museum requested $40,000 and LTAC recommended $40,000.
The Chehalis Foundation, which requested $25,000, wasn’t set to receive any money, per LTAC’s recommendation.
“That’s based on the construction projects they’re (The Chehalis Foundation) requesting it for would not be eligible until the end of next year (2023), so the funding wouldn’t actually be beneficial to them at this point,” Frazier said.
LTAC also recommended the city itself get its full requested funding amount of $71,600 for a grand total of $261,300 in tourism funding recommendations. In addition, the annual debt payment for the Recreation Park improvement project of $71,094 will be made, leaving a final ending balance of $75,206 for 2024.
With 25% of available revenue available for appropriation at the beginning of 2023, Mayor Tony Ketchum proposed raising that amount to 30% in 2024, and an additional 5% increase every year after until 50% was reached.
He hoped to ensure that the city would have money to maintain Recreation Park and keep the hotels around it in business.
“These individuals that keep coming to us, we’ve been talking for years to wean them back, and we’re not weaning anybody back, we just keep giving them more money every year. I think this money should stay in the city,” Ketchum said.
The council agreed to table the discussion to talk about it with LTAC at a later date for a possible advisory vote and approved the current proposal for 2023.
Subdivision Code Change
A proposed change in subdivision code CMC 17.12.175(D)(9)(c)(i) and (iii) was given a second reading and approved as well. Baraconi explained that the change revolved around adding language that makes property owners in subdivisions responsible for maintaining their own private streets if they are included in the plat.
“It’s just a way to try to get the homeowners to try to be responsible for the tracks that were created for their benefit,” Baraconi said.
The first code change reads: “(i) the following shall be required when the plat contains a private street: ‘The cost of construction and maintaining all streets not herein dedicated as public streets shall be the obligation of all of the owners and the obligation to maintain shall be concurrently the obligation of any corporation in which title of the streets may be held.’"
The second code change reads: “(iii) the following shall be required when the plat contains commonly owned tracts: "Community tracts shall be owned and maintained in common for the benefit of all lot owners. All lots have an undivided interest in the ownership and maintenance of community areas. The ownership interest in each community tract shall be stated in the deed to each lot."
The council expressed some concern over the language leading to ambiguity issues with future councils who might try to alter the code in another way.
They also proposed billing homeowners associations for maintenance done on private streets; however; concern was raised that could lead to the city just being seen as the maintenance company.
In the end, the council voted to amend and approve the ordinance striking out the last sentence of part as it was viewed as redundant as the community tract is already written into the deed of the plat.