Walla Walla City Council drops proposed change to comprehensive plan rules

The Council rejected a proposal that would have given the city broader authority to rezone its properties.

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WALLA WALLA -- The city on Wednesday officially withdrew its proposal to give it the authority to rezone any of its public property to commercial, residential or other zones without regard to its own comprehensive plan guidelines.

Without debate, the City Council voted unanimously to withdraw the controversial amendment. All Council members were present.

Earlier this year, the proposal drew criticism from the state Department of Commerce and members of the local group Citizens for Good Governance.

In response, a number of safeguards were added to the amendment, including limiting city-initiated rezones to parcels no larger than 5 acres and only on lands within city boundaries.

The result was that the Department of Commerce later gave a mild stamp of approval, with officials stating they had "no further concerns."

A number of residents still voiced concerns because the amendment would have resulted in losses to the public hearing process. People also complained the city should not have more authority to rezone than any other private property owner.

At the Wednesday night meeting, City Attorney Tim Donaldson said, "The process itself has shown why the public process works."

Donaldson also explained the city will instead use the current comprehensive plan rezone process to solve a number of zoning problems.

"We have identified a number of properties, not only city properties ... it presents an opportunity for us to combine all these properties together with ours and to pursue the process next year," Donaldson said.

The city's comprehensive plan allows requests for rezones every two years.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.

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