Councilman will try to find votes to overturn mayor’s veto of downtown plan

MONTESANO — Montesano City Councilman Ken Walkington says he’s going to try to get enough votes to overturn a recent veto Mayor Ken Estes did to the city’s previously adopted downtown plan.

Walkington requested the mayor’s veto be placed on the city’s agenda for the Tuesday, Oct. 22 council meeting, which takes place at 7 p.m. at Montesano City Hall, and notes in an email to be prepared for a motion to overturn the veto.

Walkington , an advocate for the downtown plan, will need to find five votes on the seven-member council to overturn the veto. When the plan was adopted during the Oct. 8 council meeting, the measure passed on a four to two vote with one councilman absent.

The downtown plan was the culmination of years of work by the Montesano Planning Commission and came with an overlay district that placed parts of the downtown into specific zones — the Civic District, the Residential Mixed-Use District, the Main Street District, the Town Square, the Arts & Entertainment District and the Gateway District.

Each zone had a one sheet with an image on it of what the building could look like with specific guidelines on lighting, awning, height and other issues.

Estes said he vetoed the plan after several issues came to light, including the fact that the city’s paid consultant who developed the plan had copyrighted all of the images, preventing the plan from going into the public domain and being used by other cities, such as Aberdeen, which was interested in looking to see if what Montesano developed could be done in Aberdeen.

“I have spoken to several entrepreneurs and Realtors who all are concerned with selling and purchasing property,” Estes added in his recent letter to the City Council. “All are troubled by limitations that are similar to what I mentioned in my pre-vote opinion to you on the 8th, which would hinder them from selling and buying properties that could be developed and/or encumber construction of a building, under codes that compliance would never be required by next door grandfathered properties.”

Estes urged a do-over by the Planning Commission and city council to come up with something better.

“If changes to this ordinance are not feasible, then accept the downtown plan as a vision rather than a code or a mandate, and encourage new business and current businesses to adopt this as their theme and allow the zoning and building codes, currently in place, to keep the city we love, Montesano, alive and vibrant,” Estes wrote.

At this point, the four council members in favor of the plan are Ken Walkington, Rich Klinger, Doug Streeter and Pat Herrington. Council members Chris Hutchings and Pam McElliott were the only ones to vote against the proposal.

Councilman Lyle Powell was absent from the meetings. Powell hasn’t returned messages seeking comment on how he would have voted. His vote could be a critical one on overturning the veto.

Hutchings says he still is opposed to the plan.

“I don’t have a problem with this move by the mayor since I’ve always been opposed to codifying a vision,” Hutchings wrote in an email. “Not sure why it didn’t come to mind before but about four to five years ago the council adopted a comprehensive plan that identified future wants and needs. I think this would have been a better place to include a vision that could help guide development and advise future councils. Including the vision in the comprehensive plan gives the community and council flexibility to take advantage of any opportunities instead of being locked in due to requirements and mandates.”