Public use permitting process working well, Colville City Council told

Jim Angell
Staff Writer

Colville’s new public use permitting process is spurring more public events in the community, the city council was told recently.
Council members, during their regular meeting July 24, heard a report from City Planner R.J. Keetch about the effects of the permitting process adopted by the council in 2017.
“It’s worked pretty well for the past year,” Keetch said in a telephone interview. “Prior to the permitting process being adopted, basically those public spaces weren’t being used.”
Between the ordinance’s adoption in July 2017 and the end of June of this year, the city granted 23 permits for the use of public spaces, collecting $1,285 in processing fees. Those events included activities such as sidewalk sales, parades, food sales, Chamber of Commerce events and the operation of an outdoor dining area by The Pour House.
Keetch said in the past, people or organizations who wanted to stage events on land open to the public were unsure of how they should obtain permission.
“There was no clear path to make that request,” he said. “Now there is a clear path.”
With that path in place, people are more willing to propose and put on events, Keetch said.
Through the permit application process, city officials are informed of what kinds of services, such as sanitation and safety services, will be needed, said Mayor Louis Janke.
Janke added the new process has been very popular.
“It really has increased the use of public spaces for the public good,” he said. “In the past, there were no means of communication. This way, we can work with (event organizers) and safely put up barricades or address other needs.”
In other action, council members agreed to pursue an ordinance that would allow the city to regulate the placement of “small cell” antennas.
Small cells are essentially wireless signal antennas designed to improve the reception and performance of wireless devices.
The antennas are now used primarily in metropolitan areas and in buildings with high volumes of people such as sports stadiums.
The Association of Washington Cities has recommended smaller communities consider adopting rules for the deployment of such antennas so regulations will be in place once the technology reaches their borders.
“We decided to pursue an ordinance so we would be positioned when the small cell companies come in,” Janke said. “It’s a good proactive step for the future, so we can treat everybody the same.”
Council members voted to ask the city’s law firm of McGrane and Schuerman to draft an ordinance for review.
“We just want to have a system where they will contact us for a permit, we’ll find out what they are doing and we’ll make sure everybody’s not just doing what they want to do,” Janke said. “It gives us some control, particularly over the city’s rights-of-way.”