City considers rezoning old dorms


Last updated 9/6/2023 at 10:01am

Coulee Dam is considering rezoning two properties for a use for which most people think they’re already zoned.

Two buildings across Lincoln Avenue from city hall, built as dormitories in the 1930s, have been used as residences, a bed-and-breakfast, an assisted living facility, and as a place to stay for visiting medical professionals working at Coulee Medical Center.

The current proposal would alter the city’s comprehensive plan to reflect such uses. A public hearing on the proposal will be scheduled, perhaps as soon as Sept. 27 if property owners return comments in time, City Clerk Stefani Bowden said.

The former dormitory at 207 Lincoln Avenue and another to its immediate south, across Douglas Avenue, once housed men and women separately who worked in the administration office (now city hall) during construction of Grand Coulee Dam.

Both facing city hall, the hospital owns one, the other is a home in private hands but has been used in the past as a bed and breakfast. But even a return to that usage under current zoning would require a cumbersome conditional use permit, Bowden explained. The city is reviewing its comprehensive plan now, looking at what changes need to be made. So, changing the plan, would make sense if it’s wanted. The property is currently zoned “recreational,” for some unknown reason, Bowden said.

She said the proposal is to rezone both properties into a “commercial” designation, which under city code still allows for residential use. She noted a “residential” zoning does not allow for commercial use.

Another proposed change to the city’s zoning code, to allow short-term rentals, is also under review. Some property owners have requested the city allow homes to be rented for under 30 days to cater to the need for such housing. The city council is currently reviewing that proposal, which could also be considered in a public hearing Sept. 27.

Bowden said the change to be submitted will be available public to comment after council review and before any public meeting.


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