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Parking rules pose a potential hurdle for Coupeville business

Lavender Wind Farm owner Sarah Richards stands on the lawn of a home she is converting into a commercial kitchen and retail space. She hopes a change in the town’s regulations will retain the green space rather than convert it to parking spaces.  - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Lavender Wind Farm owner Sarah Richards stands on the lawn of a home she is converting into a commercial kitchen and retail space. She hopes a change in the town’s regulations will retain the green space rather than convert it to parking spaces.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

Sarah Richards is hoping to open a business in Coupeville, but a pending town council decision concerning parking regulations will determine whether she will move forward with her project.

The owner of Lavender Wind Farm is converting a historic home near downtown Coupeville into a retail space and commercial kitchen where she can produce and package her line of lavender-infused products.

However, the council needs to approve regulations allowing the owners of historic structures to forgo having to install additional parking spaces. As the town regulations stand, Richards would likely have to transform the grass on her corner lot into asphalt parking spots.

The council  last Tuesday night decided to continue the public hearing until April.

“I was a little disappointed that they weren’t moving forward,” Richards said after the meeting. She wants a decision so she can complete renovations by June and take advantage of the busy tourist season.

She owns the Cushen House, a craftsman house located on the corner of Alexander and Coveland streets. The house exists outside the town’s “historic limited commercial area” and as the law stands she would have to provide parking spots. Placing additional parking on the property would probably spark outrage throughout town, she predicts.

“The people in the community would scream,” Richards said, stating the parking spaces would destroy the character of the building and she would have to halt the project.

The town has been hashing out new parking standards for some time and a public hearing was scheduled Tuesday night.

Larry Kwarsick, town planner, said the recent unified design guidelines the town adopted states that parking spaces on lots with historic structures won’t be required and the town code must be changed accordingly.

Richards wants to use the lawn to grow herbs and have a patio that will double as a community gathering place.

A draft of new parking rules was unveiled at the public meeting March 27. Kwarsick said the council decided to focus solely on parking around historic structures and the remaining parts of the regulations will be addressed at a later date.

The town wants to update the parking regulations in hopes of simplifying them and making them more responsive. A recent draft of the parking regulations proposes the creation of a Historic Downtown Parking District that expands the current historic area.

Kwarsick stressed that the council tasked him with developing regulations that apply to historic structures throughout town.

The Coupeville Town Council is scheduled to revisit parking regulations concerning historic buildings during its April 24 meeting.

 

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