Newcastle City Council Roundup | Oct. 3, 2017
Posted on 10/12/2017

Council Approves Surface Water Management Fee Rates

The Newcastle City Council approved an increase in Surface Water Management (SWM) fees for 2018 at its Oct. 3 meeting. SWM fees fund the SWM Division of the city’s Public Works Department, a utility that manages surface and storm water to reduce flooding of streets and property and to reduce the impact of polluted water to the natural environment.

For single family residential homeowners, this means a total annual increase of $27.45. Fees also are paid by owners of multifamily and commercial properties in Newcastle, but are calculated in a different way. Fees for homeowners are charged at a flat rate, on a per-parcel basis. Commercial fees are assessed based on the amount of impervious surfaces within the parcel. SWM fees were increased previously in 2016 and in 2009. Rate increases are necessary to fund increasing federal and state requirements, as well as to assess and maintain aging infrastructure.

At the Oct. 3 Council meeting, city staff presented three different level of service options – minimum, proactive, and optimal. The Council approved rates for the optimal level of service, as recommended by an updated Comprehensive Surface Water Management Plan approved by the Council in September. The updated plan will soon be available on the city’s website. This level of service will provide funding necessary to protect and improve Newcastle’s infrastructure, property, and environment. View the resolution approving new rates by clicking this link.

SWM utility fees, along with development review fees and grants, fund the division in its entirety, including operations and maintenance of stormwater infrastructure and Capital Improvement Program projects and other ongoing programs. The SWM Division manages the City’s requirements for federal and state regulatory compliance.

Questions about the 2017 CSWM Plan update or SWM fees? Contact the Surface Water Program Manager at or (425) 649-4444.

Downtown Development Moratorium Gets Three Month Extension

Following a public hearing, the Newcastle City Council approved an extension of the downtown development moratorium for an additional three months. This allows the City Council to continue refining a document establishing the community’s vision for the downtown called the Downtown Strategic Plan and associated revisions to other city plans, regulations and standards.

In reaction to rapidly increasing development activity in the downtown and a community business center plan that had not been updated since 2000, the Council enacted a moratorium in July 2016 to provide the city with sufficient time to develop a downtown strategic plan. The project is extensive with revisions to other planning documents, regulations and standards that align with the new strategic plan under consideration. The work is guided by input the city received from residents and downtown business owners during an extensive public involvement process early this year and during public meetings.

At a meeting June 20, the City Council considered the downtown proposal and sent it back to the Planning Commission for further review. The Planning Commission recently finished that work and Council members got a first look at the group’s recommendations in a presentation during the Oct. 3 meeting.

The City Council asked the Planning Commission to offer recommendations on five items. Community Development Director Steve Osguthorpe detailed those recommendations and other proposed changes to the Downtown Strategic Plan in a presentation. Flip through the presentation here and access the draft Downtown Strategic Plan (which does not include the updates from the Oct. 3 meeting) here.

The City Council will continue reviewing recommended changes to the draft Downtown Strategic Plan at the next meeting, with tentative plans to hold a Nov. 7 public hearing prior to adoption.

Council Opposes Illegal Substance Injection Sites in Newcastle

The Newcastle City Council passed a resolution opposing the siting of an illegal substance injection facility within city limits. Newcastle adds its name to the list of Eastside cities taking action to oppose or ban these facilities. The cities of Bellevue, Renton, Sammamish, Federal Way and Auburn have also approved resolutions or adopted legislation.

The Council’s position statement is in response to a King County Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force recommendation to establish at least two pilot Community Health Engagement Locations (CHELs), also known as safe injection sites. The CHELs would allow supervised consumption of heroin and other illegal drugs for adults with substance use disorders in the Seattle and King County region.

King County’s legislation states that facilities would only be located in cities that vote in the affirmative, requesting them. However, Newcastle’s Council thought it to be important to oppose them. The resolution notes “the siting of an illegal substance injection facility within the City of Newcastle would be detrimental to the public health, safety, and welfare of the residents.”

Other Notes

- In a study session prior to the meeting, City Manager Rob Wyman and Finance Director Don Palmer officially presented the 2018 Preliminary Operating and Capital Budget. Over the next two months, the City Council will review it and citizens will have a chance to comment. View a copy of the budget here.

- The Newcastle City Council opened the meeting with a moment of silence for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting.

- Listen to the full meeting audio here and view the meeting agenda packet here.

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