On Monday, Langley city staff will present the council with an access-related request from the owners of a waterfront landmark that’s been undergoing renovation for years.
The proprietors of the Dog House restaurant on First Street have proposed adding a two-car garage to the rear of the building, which faces north. To access that garage, the owners want permission to use the public right-of-way leading down to Seawall Park.
According to a memo from the city’s planning and public works departments, the unimproved area is paved and currently utilized by authorized vehicles only, such as emergency vehicles or public works vehicles needing to use it to get to the sewer lift station or Seawall Park. Although steep, pedestrians use it as a common route to get down to the waterside park.
Meredith Penny, the city’s director of Community Planning, estimated the right-of-way to be 10 to 12 feet wide. Typical use of a right-of-way for this kind of development must meet a standard 16-foot width, which could potentially be reduced to 12 to 14 feet wide if the city engineer and the fire marshal both approve. If upgraded, the road will also need a separate walkway for foot traffic that meets ADA requirements.
The memo from city staff stated that neighboring property owners have expressed interest in utilizing the unimproved right-of-way to access their properties as well. Penny said the city is in the process of organizing a meeting with them.
“We’re in such early stages, it’s hard to know what the scope of this is going to look like,” she said.
The gravel path that runs along Seawall Park, which is privately owned by the businesses above on the street level, could potentially be developed into a private road so the property owners can access the rear of their buildings from below.
“There’s some trade-off there that the community has to consider,” Penny said.
The city’s Public Works Advisory Commission was presented with the issue at its Jan. 12 meeting. Staff members compiled questions raised by members of the citizen-led board.
City council members will have a chance to weigh in on the issue at the Feb. 7 meeting, but no decisions will be made until neighboring property owners are consulted and more research is conducted by city staff.
The Dog House upgrade project began in 2017, although conceptual designs were first presented in 2015. A phase one building permit was issued to address structural issues and siding, windows and signage approved by the city’s Design Review Board. No authorization or approval was given for any new construction.
The owners now want to move forward with the project’s second phase, which includes determining the use of the building according to city code and final design.