The city of Port Orchard spent at least two years drafting its Downtown Overlay District Plan, approved in 2007. The plan included much discussed design standards intended to promote an upscale look in new developments or renovations of significant size. To that end, the city created a design review board, to be made up of citizens with certified good taste, some of whom were to have some formal knowledge of design.
The DRB got it’s first “case” recently when jeweler Rudy Swenson proposed to renovate his building at 701 Bay Street in a New Orleans design, complete with wrought iron railings, brickwork, hanging baskets and other acoutrements reminiscent of the French Quarter. The council, on April 13, received a recommendation from the DRB approving Swenson’s design.
Ultimately, however, the process to not go as planned, said Councilman Jerry Childs at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Childs spent a lot of time before he was elected riding herd on the council to enact design standards that, as he said, would enhance Port Orchard’s “charm.” That’s pretty much why he ran for the council seat, he said. So he has a vested interest in making sure the DRB are effective gatekeepers for all that’s tasteful in Port Orchard.
Childs blew off steam at Tuesday’s meeting A. because the DRB, in it’s debut performance, approved Swenson’s plans without having access to schematic drawings of the design elements, and B. Some members of the five-person board approved the plans without having attended the meeting at which they were discussed, Childs said. One of the five did not vote. The other two who were absent voted by e-mail, he said.
Childs and the city’s development director James Weaver will meet to work out the bugs on the design review process. After spending so long on the DOD plan, the city should be getting more out of the design review board, Childs said.
“The very reason I ran got it’s first test, and it failed miserably,” he said.