Hearing zones in on Area 56

By Brian Beckley

The Courier-Herald

More than 50 people packed into the city council chambers this past Wednesday for a public hearing regarding zoning inconsistency areas in Bonney Lake's proposed downtown area.

Much of the talk revolved around Area 56, two parcels of land located behind Michelle's Studio of Dance. The land is currently zoned as commercial property, but is listed as residential on the Comprehensive Plan's Future Land Use Map (FLUM).

State law requires zoning and future land use to be in accordance.

Studio of Dance owner Michelle Gunn led off the hearing, imploring the commission not to change the zoning of her land. Gunn intends to expand her business, constructing parking and a new building for the land.

In March, Gunn, under advice from her attorney, combined her two parcels. This past week she told the commission it would be "careless and capricious" to rezone half of a parcel of commercial land.

According to Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington Planning Consultant Sue Enger, however, a single tax parcel is allowed to carry two zonings.

"Whether or not it's good practice, it is possible for property to be (divided) between different types of zones," Enger said.

Approximately half of those in attendance at the hearing were tied in some way to the studio and urged the council not to downzone the land. Several spoke about the importance of having a place like Michelle's in the community, implying that the studio would have to close if the zoning change took place.

The studio currently sits on land that is zoned for commercial purposes and is in no danger of being rezoned. Expansion plans, however, could be in jeopardy if the land use designation is changed.

Several people also spoke out in favor of the rezone, including former Planning Commission Chairman Steve Burnham, who lives in the Grandview neighborhood, located behind the parcel in question.

Burnham, who was part of the commission when the Comp Plan and FLUM were adopted and the inconsistency areas were identified, said the rezoning is a follow-up to the several-year review process of the comprehensive plan.

Burnham also reminded the commission that the comprehensive plan states that existing residential neighborhoods be protected, saying the neighborhood behind the studio is and "always was" residential, including the two parcels of Area 56, which each currently has a house on it.

"Residential neighborhoods are the key to a city," Burnham said, adding that the commission should think beyond one resident's financial interests.

"Planning requires thought beyond someone's self interest," he said.

Several other residents of Grandview agreed with Burnham, including Connie Fenstermacher who claimed increased commercial interest in the community would bring increased traffic to the neighborhood.

"Turning that corner into a commercial property jeopardizes the children," she said.

But Linda Youngberg also spoke to the commission, pointing out that the land's current zoning is commercial.

"This property has been commercial since 1977," she said.

The Planning Commission will make a recommendation to the city council later this summer. The council makes the final decision regarding zoning.

Brian Beckley can be reached at

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