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For the week of January 15 - 21, 2003


Bellevue Council endorses plan to raise city fees

Panel also advances new city parking plan

Express Staff Writer

Bellevue City Council members Thursday voted to advance two pieces of new legislation, including one proposal to raise numerous city fees.

Council members by a narrow 3-2 vote tentatively approved a set of revised fees for city services, and scheduled a public hearing on the proposal for March 13.

Councilman Jon Wilkes was absent from the meeting.

Also by a 3-2 vote, the panel tentatively approved a set of changes to the city’s parking ordinance to generally relax the parking-space requirements for developments in the city. The changes will be drafted into a new ordinance that is tentatively scheduled for consideration by council members on Thursday, Jan. 23.

Councilmen Parke Mitchell and Wayne Douthit opposed advancing either of the measures without additional research and review by city officials.

However, council members Dale Shappee, Tammy Schofield and Jon Anderson agreed that both proposals—which have been repeatedly reviewed by the council and Planning and Zoning Commission—should be prepared for a final vote.

"At some point, we can’t micro-manage everything," Shappee said.

The proposed revisions to city fees were put forth by the P&Z last year. The plan generally proposes to raise by a small percentage most fees for city services, permits and licenses.

The plan proposes to increase monthly sewer-service rates from $17.75 to $18.90, but also calls for monthly water-service rates to be lowered from $15.75 to $15.

Under the plan, water tap fees would be increased, as would capitalization fees for new developments.

Council members will likely be asked to make a final determination on whether to adopt the new fees at the March 13 public hearing.

The proposal to revise the city’s parking ordinance was put forth by the Bellevue P&Z after Mayor John Barton and a contingent of prospective developers complained that the city’s requirements for parking spaces in business-zoned areas were too stringent.

The amendments to the parking ordinance propose to lower the number of on-site parking spaces some businesses would be required to keep, and would stipulate new requirements for many types of businesses for which there are no parking requirement provisions in the existing ordinance.

The draft revisions include proposals to relax the requirements for retail stores, restaurants and light industrial-zoned businesses.

In addition, the amendments seek to better define the parking requirements for all types of residential units in the city.

Barton last year repeatedly said he thinks the city’s strict requirements for small businesses discourage new business owners from taking over vacant commercial properties in the city’s downtown core, and might also discourage new construction of retail or light-industrial business sites.

Barton on Thursday said he wants to bring the city’s regulations "more in line" with other cities in the Wood River Valley, which typically are less restrictive.

Councilman Mitchell said Thursday that he favors a plan to entirely eliminate parking regulations for developments and businesses in the city’s downtown core.

"You drive up and you park, and that’s it," he said. "I’m proposing to scrap the parking ordinance in the downtown part of the city."

The majority of the panel agreed with Barton and P&Z Administrator Steve Almquist that by relaxing the existing regulations the city would be able to promote new businesses in the downtown core while ensuring that there is no shortage of parking in the future.


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