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10/10/2012 2:43:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Photo by Kacie Thrift
Raymond Schmitten submitted a proposal to the planning commission recently to have the zone changed on the property pictured above. Schmitten owns part of this property and wants to start a coin laundry facility. But he canít build a laundromat due to the zoning. A public hearing on the matter will be part of the next planning commission meeting in November.
Planning Commission approves zoning change to allow new laundromat
Kacie Thrift
Staff Writer

Raymond Schmitten recently submitted a proposal to the city of Cashmere involving a change in zoning from a multi-family to warehouse industrial on approximately half an acre.

Schmitten wants to turn the property at 312 River St. in Cashmere into a laundromat for his employees that work in his pear orchards. He recently purchased the property to use for extra housing and decided there was also a need for a place to do laundry.

"I purchased this property from Alex and Rhonda Rayes with the intention of actually having a little bit more housing for my employees because I am an orchardist," Schmitten said. "I was going to put in coin laundry just for my employees. I talked to Mark [Cashmere Director of planning and building] about it a little bit and decided I would want to do it more on a commercial base because the old laundromat is sitting right there. The footprints there, the drain is there, the power is there."

The problem is, the rules for the zoning on this piece of property specifically states no laundromats.

Schmitten said this proposal would be beneficial for more than just his employees. He said there are many rental homes in the area that would benefit from a coin laundry. Coin showers will also be installed if the proposal goes through. The showers will mainly be used for truck drivers stopping at Crunch Pak, but will be open to anyone who wants to use them, including kayakers who will be near to the building when coming down the Wenatchee River.

City staff have determined the proposal will likely not have a significant adverse impact on the environment. Mark Botello, director of planning and building, wrote in a criteria review the city feels the proposed changes to their comprehensive plan are consistent with both the Growth Management Act and the County/City Wide Planning Policies. He also wrote the proposed amendments are consistent with the overall intent of the existing comprehensive plan.

Currently, there is a singlewide trailer on Schmitten's property. Schmitten said he intends on removing the trailer to utilize the parking lot for the laundromat and using the trailer for more employee housing. The parking lot would create a buffer between residential and multi-family zones.

On Oct. 1, the Cashmere Planning Commission discussed the possibility of changing the zone at 312 River St. The majority of the planning commissioners said they felt the laundromat was a good idea and would likely be beneficial for the city.

Planning Commissioner Ann Chipman said she also believes the idea is good but she struggles with the zoning.

"I think that location is more appropriate as a mixed commercial. It makes me nervous to make it a warehouse industrial right there. It seems like a drastic difference in purpose and I don't know if there is any way around it," Chipman said. "When we start putting things in residential, plopping that zoning in there, it starts something. I am afraid of what someone else is going to want to do in a residential area."

Botello said city staff looked at other options including using a conditional use permit. However, conditional use permits are not allowed in multi-family zones and because it is not adjacent to the downtown business zone, the location, if changed, would be a spot zone.

Planning commissioner Jim Wonn told Chipman he understands her thoughts on the request but he feels saying yes is part of his job as a Cashmere planning commissioner.

"Part of our obligation as a group is to do what's in the best interest of Cashmere. I would think if we could put this up to a vote the folks would say find a way to do it," said Wonn.

Chipman responded by saying the actual idea of the laundromat is not what she has a problem with. The problem is when you start pushing industrial in an area they are setting a precedence for someone else to do it too.

Planning commissioner John Torrence said he believed Chipman had a point but didn't see a real problem with some of the area changing into warehouse industrial. Botello said the worry is because the properties are so close to homes.

"These things evolve though, the boundaries won't be forever," Torrence said.

Christopher Carlson, planning commissioner, said if the proposal was accepted and 312 River St. was changed to a warehouse industrial zone the map would become messy. He suggested making a variance or allowing laundromat in the multi-family zone.

Botello said the location would not meet the variance criteria.

Schmitten said whether or not the zoning changes he is still going to put housing behind the existing building for his employees.

Botello said the next step would be to have a public hearing at the next planning commission meeting, and if the meeting goes well, move the proposal on to the city council.

Torrence made a motion to proceed with a public hearing with the proposal as submitted. Everyone in the planning commission voted yes for the public hearing and to move on with the proposal except for Chipman. Chipman said she did not feel right setting precedence for warehouses so close to homes.

"It's a risk," she said.

Botello said because the property touches a warehouse industrial zone the proposal has a good possibility of going through.

The public hearing will be held at the next planning commission meeting on Nov. 5 at 5 p.m.

Kacie Thrift may be reached at 783-3781 or reporter@cashmerevalleyrecord.com.



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