Isthmus heights hearing set

Olympia City Council: Washington Center rented for public testimony on lowering limits

February 19, 2010 

State, city represented at isthmus forum today

View of the isthmus in downtown Olympia from the Capitol Campus. (The Olympian file)

STEVEN M. HERPPICH — The Olympian

  • HOW TO WATCH

    Tuesday’s public hearing about the downtown isthmus will be broadcast live on TCTV, cable channel 3, city spokeswoman Cathie Butler said. It also will be recorded for a webcast on the council’s Web site, www.ci.olympia.wa.us. It will not be streamed live on the Internet because the city doesn’t have the proper facilities in The Washington Center, she said.

OLYMPIA - The Olympia City Council will hold another public hearing about the downtown isthmus Tuesday at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts - this time about whether the city should make permanent an interim decision to drop height limits to 35 feet.

The council will hold its regular weekly meeting at the center, 512 Washington St. S.E. This time, however, the public hearing is the only item on the agenda. The council has set aside four hours to hear testimony.

Doors open at 5 p.m., and the meeting will begin at 6. At 7 p.m., the city will stop signing in people for testimony. If the meeting continues past 10 p.m., council members will decide whether to extend the hearing, city spokeswoman Cathie Butler said.

The council last held a public hearing at the arts center in September 2008, when the council hadn’t yet decided whether to raise height limits on part of the isthmus from 35 feet to 42, 65 and 90 feet. Nearly 100 people testified in the emotional, five-hour hearing.

Later that year, the council decided to raise the height limits. Flash forward to January 2010, and a council with three new members voted to revert height limits to 35 feet. But such a move requires another public hearing – the one that will be held Tuesday.

“This is a public hearing that’s on that action of adopting the interim ordinance and whether or not that ordinance should continue to be in effect,” Butler said.

She said the city chose The Washington Center as the venue because more room was needed than council chambers could accommodate. She said The Olympia Center, which is larger than council chambers but smaller than The Washington Center, was not available.

Butler doesn’t expect as big a crowd as in September 2008. The balcony areas of the center will be closed, she said, unless the size of the crowd demands that they be opened.

But she added, “We don’t know how many people to expect at this time.”

There are some other new twists with this year’s hearing. People who want to testify will sign cards available in the lobby so they won’t have to stand in line. There will be two microphones.

“The mayor will call … four to six people in front of the microphone” at a time, Butler said. “They will be generally in the order in which they signed in.”

Speakers will get two minutes to address the council – less than the three minutes the council has allowed.

Written comments can be submitted to City Hall until noon next Friday, Butler said.

Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869

mbatcheldor@theolympian.com

The Olympian is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service