Zoning code prohibition cited
Twisp resident Judy Brezina’s two-year search for a site to set up a Saturday flea market in town was frustrated again last week.
The Town Council turned down Brezina’s appeal of her rejected application to set up a market at the Community Covenant Church on Highway 20. The council’s action was based on the town zoning code, which specifically prohibits such markets in an R-2 zone. The church property is zoned R-2.
In April, Brezina submitted a land use permit application for a flea market/swap meet to be staged in the church’s parking lot. The church supported the proposal.
In a June 23 letter to Brezina, Town Planner Kurt Danison denied her application because of the zoning conflict, and advised her that she could appeal. The council conducted a public hearing on her appeal last week.
In a letter to the council, Brezina said she had looked into several other locations around town, but for various reasons none of them worked out. She said she had talked to some of the church’s neighbors, who supported the proposal.
Danison told the council that the town code doesn’t make any provisions for variances. The only way to allow the usage Brezina requested would be to amend the code, he said, which would require a separate process that would go through the planning commission and eventually require council action.
“The procedure is not just to ignore it [the code], but to amend it,” Danison said. “The council can’t just change the code or ignore what it says.”
Flea markets are allowed in other parts of town including commercial zones, Danison said.
Brezina testified that she had investigated about a dozen sites, “but finding a spot that fits is hard to do … It doesn’t make sense that I can’t do it [at the church].”
Mayor Soo Ing-Moody said “there is empathy for your situation … but we cannot break the law.”
“We’re happy to work with you to see if there are any other options,” Ing-Moody said.
After denying Brezina’s appeal, the council adopted a motion directing the planning commission to consider revising the code to allow flea markets in R-2 zones in certain locations along Highway 20, with specific conditions. Danison said that could take until at least next year because the planning commission already has a full slate of projects previously requested by the council.
Civic building update
In other business at last week’s meeting, Public Works Director Andrew Denham reported that while the new civic building and regional communications center on Glover Street is nearly ready to occupy, some equipment and systems — including security and internet access — have been delayed by supply chain issues and other problems. He said the remaining work may be completed by mid- to late July.
Although the building’s furniture is installed, “we wouldn’t be able to operate” without the other systems in place, Denham said.