Newcastle City Council roundup — May 6

May 7, 2014

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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NEW — 4:05 p.m. May 7, 2014

The Newcastle City Council held its first meeting of the month May 6. Here is the Cliffs Notes version of what happened at City Hall. View the full meeting agenda online here.

Marijuana moratorium coming?

The Newcastle City Council directed city staff to prepare an ordinance placing a moratorium on marijuana-related business in the city. It represents one of the body’s first significant actions on the subject since the drug’s legalization.

Councilman Gordon Bisset made the motion, which passed 4-3.

It mirrors the actions of neighboring cities Issaquah and Renton, both of which have moratoriums on marijuana business practices.

The direction came after a failed attempt to pursue a ban on marijuana businesses in the city. Deputy Mayor John Drescher made a motion directing staff to prepare a banning ordinance.

Drescher said after an informal polling of neighbors, he felt the universal feeling was that people didn’t want that sort of thing in Newcastle.

The motion failed, 5-2, with Drescher and Councilman John Dulcich as the only ‘Yes’ votes.

Some Council members said they felt an action on marijuana was premature, especially since the state Liquor Control Board’s retail-license lottery came and went without any impacts on Newcastle.

City staff considers the potential for any marijuana-related business activity in Newcastle very low. Based on the Liquor Control Board’s rules calling for a 1,000-foot separation between marijuana facilities and places such as parks, libraries and schools, there are only three Newcastle properties that could house potential locations for marijuana businesses or growers.

The council last considered a moratorium at its Dec. 17 meeting, but that motion failed. Staff will now produce an ordinance for the council to review at an upcoming meeting.

Thanks for the easement

A Newcastle property owner will likely get a bit of a tax break, thanks to his willingness to grant the city a public-trail easement.

The council unanimously approved the owner’s application to King County’s Public Benefit Rating System (PBRS). The program offers an incentive to preserve open space on private property in the county by providing a tax reduction to the owner.

A local jurisdiction must approve a PBRS application, in addition to the King County Council, if the property falls in an incorporated area.

The owner will save approximately $175 a year thanks to the property-tax reduction.

Garry Kampen, of Newcastle Trails, and Newcastle resident Giles Velte spoke in favor of the application, saying the easement was beneficial because it preserves public access to the city’s Horse Trail.

Odds and ends

Mayor Steve Buri mentioned that the city has secured a Fourth of July sponsor. AvalonBay’s sponsorship means that the fireworks will continue (technical difficulties notwithstanding, for those who attended last year’s celebration).

The City Council continued to discuss its impact fee programs as it looks toward an update. Impact fees are a comprehensive grouping of charges based on new development within a local municipality. These fees are assessed to pay for capital facility improvement projects necessitated by new development.

City Manager Rob Wyman said that the Newcastle Police Department is now using TrackMole, a new online service to assist in recovering lost or stolen items. The program is not effective unless property owners input the serial numbers of valuable items. Learn more about the program at www.trackmole.com.

Councilwoman Carol Simpson noted that she recently celebrated her 15th anniversary as a Newcastle resident.

What’s next

The next Newcastle City Council meeting is May 20.

We’ll keep reminding you until it happens, but don’t forget that the city’s annual town hall meeting is June 3 this year, not in the fall as it’s been in the past.

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