Woodin Creek Village Development approved

  • Written by Briana Gerdeman

Tuesday’s city council meeting resolved the ongoing debate about the Woodin Creek Village Development in downtown and sparked discussion about a new issue — which businesses would be permitted in Woodinville’s business district.

The council unanimously approved the Woodin Creek Village Development Agreement, Resolution 434, to applause from the audience.

The development will include 800 multi-family residential units, 50,000 square feet of retail/commercial business space, 10,000 square feet of office space, infrastructure improvements, buffer enhancements and a trail.

As the long process of negotiations about the development came to an end, the council members expressed their excitement for the future and their gratitude to residents who offered suggestions.

Councilmember Les Rubstello urged the council to find a way to make Garden Way (138th Avenue NE) — one of the roads bordering the development — a two-lane road instead of the one-lane road or temporary driveway the city has discussed. Jens Molbak, owner of Molbak’s Garden + Home, offered to dedicate land so the city could build a two-way road.

“I encourage our council to find a way to get Garden Way done with this project. We have two cooperative landowners, which I don’t think we’ve ever had before,” Rubstello said, prompting laughter from the council. “We should take advantage of that and move as fast as our budget will allow us to go.”
Councilmember Susan Boundy-Sanders answered questions from the public about additional traffic and changes to NE 171st Street.

“Yes, those studies have been done,” she said. “We’ve had terrific staff involvement; the developer has been terrific, has really gone the extra mile to study every facet of this; and yes, it all works out. Yes, traffic volumes will go up, but they do not exceed our thresholds.”

The council also approved the 2013 Planning Commission Work Plan, a flexible guide to work and activity throughout the year, despite concerns that Boundy-Sanders raised about three items that dealt with King County annexing an area of the Sammamish River Valley.

Boundy-Sanders said tourism in the Sammamish River Valley is important to Woodinville’s economy, and King County has already said no to annexing the areas between downtown Woodinville and the wine district.
“We are trying to get that back into their radar, but doing so just shows them that Woodinville is a sprawl-ville,” she said. “It does not show them that we understand stewardship, land use, agricultural preservation, that we understand that the agricultural valley is the basis of our tourist economy. We’re showing them that we don’t understand that annexing that area is killing our golden goose.”

After approving the Woodin Creek Village Development Agreement and the 2013 Planning Commission Work Plan, the council began a public hearing on Ordinance 560, which would amend specific uses permitted in the general business and central business district zones.

Erin Martindale, senior planner for the Development Services Department, explained that the council previously adopted a moratorium on certain uses, which expires in July 2013.

The Planning Commission suggests three basic categories of changes: removing a use from the zone so it would be prohibited, adding a use so it would be allowed, and changing the scope of a use by adding conditions or limitations.

The Planning Commission’s goals for the business zone include adopting design standards to improve aesthetics; allowing medical businesses, schools, and personal services in the Office zone; and eliminating industrial and storage businesses “that are not consistent with the vision for the General Business Zone downtown,” Martindale said.

Existing businesses that do not meet the design standards or allowed uses would be grandfathered in, but new business or businesses changing more than 50 percent of an existing building would have to comply with the new standards.

The council and the public discussed how the ordinance would affect shooting ranges, outdoor sales lots, gas stations, construction yards, software companies, conference centers, bulk retailers (such as Costco), risque coffee stands and car washes.

Dan Gowen, representing Jackson’s Food Stores at the Shell Station, agreed with the general design standards the Planning Commission proposed, but pointed out problems with some suggestions. Having a screen blocking pumps or having pumps in back is a safety problem because police can’t see what’s going on and because customers can’t see if the gas station is busy, which helps them decide whether or not to go there.

“Having them completely in the rear, completely screened by your building, kills our business,” Gowen said. “So probably nobody would agree to move their building to that location.”
Mark Hoidal, owner of the Splash N Dash car wash, said his business was declared a nonconforming business in 2010.

He’s hoping the council will change that in the new ordinance.

“The planning department has put me in the category of automotive service, and that shall be only provided in an enclosed building,” he said. “There is not a self-service car wash in the United States that is enclosed in a building, or even garage doors on the building, because it is open 24 hours a day.”

The council did not make a decision about the ordinance, and the public hearing will continue at the May 14 meeting.

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