Saturday, June 22, 2024

Condominium allowance to head to Leavenworth City Council

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LEAVENWORTH – Following a varied public hearing, the Planning Commission moved to approve its proposed code amendments for condominium ownership within the Residential zoning districts during its June 7 meeting. The Planning Commission’s recommendations will ultimately go before City Council for deliberation and a vote.

The largest topic of concern was whether protections would be put in place for renters who may be affected by the condominiumization of their unit, with some skeptics proposing a relocation program for low-income tenants.

“I don't believe that it's in the city's best interest to create such a program, because it would be expensive, and I don't think it would be utilized. It's unusual for me to share an opinion like that, but I think it’s important on this particular topic,” said Community Development Director Lilith Vespier.

Vespier added that the likelihood of renters being displaced is quite low, due to that fact that many existing dwellings would be disqualified from converting based on the requirements, and that most renters would not qualify for low-income assistance, which RCW 59.18.440 defines as at or below 50 percent of the average median income (AMI).

Planning Commissioner Allison Miller reinforced this opinion, adding that the conversion would be no different than a house that is currently rented going up for sale. 

Kirvil Skinnarland, representing Residents Coalition of Chelan County (RC3), was supportive of the condominium idea, but wanted to ensure tenant protections.

“Even though it's a low probability according to what Lilith says based on her knowledge of the town, we still feel like relocation assistance of some type should be available and the city could possibly contract out for that,” said Kirvil Skinnarland, representing Residents Coalition of Chelan County (RC3). 

City Councilmember Zeke Reister testified with similar sentiments as RC3. However, Vespier told Reister that it was inappropriate for him to speak as a council member at the Planning Commission’s public hearing.

“This is going to be coming before you and you will have the final say on the decision. This time is provided for the Planning Commission to [form] a recommendation to your body,” said Vespier. ”I find it’s challenging to help Planning Commissions remain impartial and not sway them.”

The Planning Commission voted to approve the recommendations, with Planning Commissioner Janessa Ruckle abstaining.

Taylor Caldwell: 509-433-7276 or taylor@ward.media

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