Shortened moratorium unlikely, says Langley city planner

Shortening Langley’s historic building demolition moratorium to 30 days is not likely, said the city’s planning director.

Shortening Langley’s historic building demolition moratorium to 30 days is not likely, said the city’s planning director.

Charlie and Janice Kleiner, the owners of the Dog House Tavern on First Street, asked the city to reduce the teardown ban duration from up to six months to just one at the council’s regularly scheduled meeting Monday, May 19. Charlie Kleiner addressed city staff and the city council, saying he believed they were aware that if the process to renovate was unsuccessful or too costly, that he will look at tearing it down and rebuilding on the lot.

“It doesn’t take six months to explore the impact and options for the destruction of a historic building,” he said.

“We’ve been on hold for 10 months for the city to get to a public hearing,” he added. “This is expensive for us.”

As of Saturday, the moratorium is in its 16th day. Langley issued a temporary ban on destroying historic buildings in the commercial core, essentially targeting the Dog House Tavern, at the May 5 council meeting after learning of the Kleiners’ interest in demolition. The moratorium is designed to allow time for the city to look at additional rules and regulations to determine which historic buildings can be leveled.

Director of Community Planning Jeff Arango said the process of creating new rules, public notification and convening a Langley City Council meeting to amend the emergency ordinance takes longer than the time between when the Kleiners made their request and the 30-day mark.

Councilwoman Margot Jerome, who officially vacated her position after the meeting to be with her husband in North Carolina, asked if the city had the authority to keep someone from demolishing their property. The short answer from Arango was “yes.” He defended the city’s legal ability to regulate development, which includes destruction of existing structures. Arango also noted that one of the lingering issues is that he has never seen a complete building plan — or a renovation plan — for the city to review.

“We’ve never been presented with a complete plan,” he said.

The Kleiners, who live in Issaquah, made the trip to Langley to enter their request into the public record. Prior to the meeting, Charlie Kleiner said it was important for his wife and he to ask the city to shorten the moratorium. They hope to begin demolition as soon as possible and would like to build just as quickly.

“It’s a long way to drive just for a request,” he said in a phone interview before the meeting.

Langley must have a public hearing about the moratorium ordinance within 60 days of its adoption. That means the city’s deadline is July 4, which is a holiday, moving its practical deadline to July 3.