March 19, 2019 | Park Signs, Commons Parking and Nonconforming Buildings
Posted on 03/25/2019

The Newcastle City Council roundups offer a digest of notable items for those who can't make it to the regular meetings. View the meeting agenda packet here and listen to the meeting audio here. View past City Council roundups at newcastlewa.gov/councilrecaps.

NEWCASTLE PARK SIGNS

Consistent signage is coming to all Newcastle parks! The Newcastle City Council approved a resolution that allows the city to move ahead with the signs’ fabrication

There are 17 parks in Newcastle, but the current signage varies. Some have green entry signs, others have developer-designed signs absent of regulatory information, and some don’t have any signage. The new signs will have a maroon background with white lettering. Additionally, the signs will receive a special coating to guard against vandalism.

Consistency in graphics and regulatory information, a physical structure design that’s safe for the public and completing the project at a reasonable cost, were all important project objectives.

THE DOWNTOWN PLAN AND NONCONFORMING BUILDINGS 

When the Newcastle City Council adopted the Downtown Strategic Plan at the end of 2017, the vision called for a downtown that was more pedestrian friendly. The associated development regulations endorsed that idea and implemented a new standard to place downtown buildings as close as possible to the street, with parking located behind.

Many existing buildings are setback considerably further away from the street with parking located in front. Since these buildings, such as our local shopping centers, do not conform to new regulations, they are considered legally “nonconforming” under city code. Current City development standards restrict Safeway, QFC and other nonconforming businesses downtown from expanding. The intent is for nonconforming structures to be phased out over time and replaced with development that meets the City’s vision.

The City Council directed staff to draft provisions to allow limited expansion of such businesses. They reviewed proposed amendments at the March 19 meeting. One challenge in drafting such code language is balancing the short-term needs of existing businesses with the city’s long-term interest in creating the pedestrian-friendly environment envisioned by the Downtown Plan.  

RESOURCES: March 19 Agenda Bill | March 19 Meeting Presentation | Proposed Amendments - Expansion of Nonconforming Buildings

GENERAL UPDATES

A representative from the Newcastle Retail Group, the entity that operates The Shops at Newcastle Commons, used the final public comment period to address recent parking and traffic flow concerns expressed by some community members. He acknowledged that parking is tight in the new shopping center, in part, because the businesses are performing very, very well. They are working to move employee parking off-site to alleviate some of that congestion. He noted that visitors can utilize parking lots on either side of the shopping center, as well as any street parking in the Avalon Newcastle Commons area and the facility’s parking garage just east of the shopping center on 132nd Place Southeast.

— The Newcastle City Council awarded City Manager Rob Wyman with a 5 percent salary raise after conducting a performance review. Mr. Wyman has served in the role of City Manager since 2010.

— The Newcastle City Council approved a franchise agreement that allows a company working on behalf of Verizon to install and expand fiber-optic lines in the city right-of-way.

— The City Council authorized staff to renew a contract with Brightview Landscape Services to provide landscaping services in city parks and roadway right-of-ways.

— The City Council approved a proclamation recognizing Arbor Day in the City of Newcastle.

The Newcastle City Council wants to hear from you! Members of the public are invited to share thoughts during public hearings or two open public comment periods at meetings. Regular meetings of the City Council occur on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at City Hall, starting at 7 p.m. You can also email your thoughts to councilmembers. To send a message to the entire council, email the city clerk at saram@newcastlewa.gov. You can also email them individually (view all councilmember emails here).

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