The Pullman City Council on Tuesday voted to allow public input regarding a temporary moratorium on new construction in the downtown corridor.

That public discussion has been scheduled for the Aug. 13 City Council meeting.

The unanimous vote came after the council voted 5-2 against a motion to begin the process of enacting a temporary moratorium. That motion was brought by Councilor Al Sorensen.

Sorensen asked the city at the July 9 city council meeting to explore the possibility of temporarily halting new construction in the section of downtown that is the focus of revitalization efforts.

The county has hired BDS, a consultant that will craft a downtown master plan intended to help the city improve the accessibility, aesthetic and utilization of the downtown business district.

BDS was hired at a cost of $122,800.

During Tuesday’s meeting Sorensen noted the $122,800 price tag is one of several significant costs the city has paid for studies and consultants on various projects in recent years, and he wants to ensure that tax dollars do not go to waste.

Sorensen said given the amount of money spent on the master plan, it would be irresponsible of the city to allow new construction before the plan is completed. It is scheduled to be finished around January.

Though the BDS contract does not include standards for architectural design and color of buildings, Sorensen is concerned new construction will not be aligned with Pullman’s overall vision for downtown.

“I think the moratorium gives us time to have a comprehensive design for our downtown, which includes beautiful sidewalks, ample parking and landscape areas, making it attractive for a mix of good retail … elevating our downtown so it’s a place both locals and tourists want to visit,” Sorensen said.

City Attorney Laura McAloon said in order to enact a six- or 12-month moratorium, the city would have to declare an emergency and create a resolution, hold a public hearing, adopt an ordinance and create a work plan with final recommendations for the moratorium. The city also has the option of holding a public hearing before it declares an emergency.

The city enacted a moratorium in 2011, 2013 and 2015 to halt the establishment of medical marijuana collective gardens and marijauana retail businesses.

Councilor Nathan Weller said a decision regarding a moratorium should be made with input from all stakeholders involved, and warned a moratorium puts the city at risk of dissuading potential developers from bringing new businesses to Pullman.

Councilor Pat Wright said she had difficulty seeing a need for a moratorium on new construction given the lack of space available for new construction.

Also during the meeting, the council:

Approved a $182,680 contract to repair Reaney Pool.

Approved proposed Pullman Transit route changes and a $2,286,846 transit fare pass agreement to allow Washington State University students, staff, faculty and retirees to ride Pullman buses for free.


Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email at akuipers@dnews.com.

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