In response to increasing buyer demand for housing in Pierce County and a persistent shortage of inventory, developers have been building new homes in Gig Harbor at a rapid rate. The Gig Harbor City Council recently responded to this development boom by passing a building moratorium on new residential development applications, forcing developers to put upcoming projects on hold.
I’ve had questions from several clients about what this moratorium means and whether or not they should be concerned about what that does to their plans to buy and sell property in Gig Harbor. As a result, I’ve decided to share the information here that I’ve recently been discussing with them.
Why did GHCC use a moratorium and what does it entail?
In a recent Tacoma News Tribune article, Gig Harbor council member Michael Perrow said the council had instituted the moratorium because they felt the “rapid pace of development has created vast concern” among community members and that vesting of certain permit applications would be “detrimental to public health”. The ordinance imposes a six month moratorium upon the receipt and processing of subdivision applications and applications for building permits and other land use development approvals associated with residential development. Click here for the full article.
What does this mean?
The city council is concerned that current zoning regulations may no longer be appropriate and/or sufficient in light of recent growth. Applications for new developments are coming in so rapidly that the city wants to take some time (6 months) to figure out what changes might need to be made to ensure that the infrastructure can handle this explosion of new residential development, and to determine how to slow down growth if necessary.
You already bought land and have submitted your applications. Now what?
There are exceptions to the moratorium:
Any valid permits that were filed before the moratorium passed and simply need to be processed.
Permits for repair, remodeling, restoration or additions to existing single-family dwellings.
Replacement of any existing single-family dwellings.
Permits and applications for “accessory uses and structures associated with existing residential dwellings units.”
Applications for final plats or short plats.
Any site improvements or utility extensions that are necessary to obtain approval for final plats, final short plats or preliminary plat applications submitted before the moratorium was imposed.
If you were thinking about purchasing land for construction in Gig Harbor, should you forget about it?
In my opinion, it’s safe to continue looking for vacant land in Gig Harbor if you are considering single-family new construction. According to The City of Gig Harbor, permits for a single-family home on an existing recorded lot will still be processed.If you are thinking about developing a subdivision, that is a different story. I would recommend taking a pause, because zoning and density regulations may end up changing in the near future. If the moratorium continues beyond the six months, we could see the prices for existing homes in Gig Harbor inflate more rapidly than they would without the building stop, which could be good for current home-owners. For full details on the Gig Harbor moratorium in the City’s own words click here.
How long will this moratorium last?
Mayor Kit Kuhn said that the city will need to entertain official public comment on the moratorium at the March 26th regular city council meeting before any timing decisions are finalized. Though temporary in nature, this moratorium is expected to last for at least six months.