Possible city rezone in the works

  • Written by Don Mann
By a 5-2 vote, the Woodinville City Council passed first reading of Ordinance No. 539 Tuesday, amending the 2012 Comprehensive Plan to change eight properties currently zoned Office to Central Business District (CBD).

Passage of the ordinance at second reading could possibly lead to the construction of a much talked about affordable hotel — though that is not guaranteed.

The properties, to be redeveloped by a Kirkland firm, total 4.63 acres and are on the east and west sides of 140th Ave. NE near NE 171st Street.

According to Senior Planner Erin Martindale, CBD zoning allows for buildings of up to 57 feet.

Councilmember Susan Boundy-Sanders, who along with Mayor Bernie Talmas voted no, was adamantly opposed to the idea.

“This is a step in the direction of stringing our downtown out along a substandard road and saying that will make our downtown more compact. I’m just not into deceiving our citizens like that,” she said.

She commented that there were over 125 redevelopable acres already in the existing CBD, and there was no demonstrated need for the rezone.

Talmas said his big concern was there had been no traffic study in an area already fraught with high traffic and poor visibility. “Secondly it’s next to agricultural and rural land, and they could build five stories which would change the entire character of the area … We don’t know what we’ll get there, other than a large building. We can’t control what the use would be.”

Deputy Mayor Liz Aspen asked Public Works Director Tom Hansen if an unusual number of car accidents occur at the location and was told they did not.

Councilmember Les Rubstello reminded his colleagues they were not changing the zoning from rural or R-1 to CBD; it was already zoned office.“It’s barely an upzone at all,” he said. “The parcels already can get office buildings built on them today … about the only real difference is the two and a half parcels on the west can go a little bit higher.”

Councilmember Paulette Bauman reminded her colleagues the Planning Commission had already passed the rezone recommendation 5-1.

Boundy-Sanders said a recent market demand study indicated a need for hotel space, but added the study was “seriously, seriously flawed,” citing its claim that Totem Lake and downtown Bothell were both within the city’s retail market.

“I think we all know intuitively it would be nice to have another hotel,” she said. “But there’s no guarantee a hotel will be built. And even if it is, is that where a hotel should go when we have 147 rebuildable acres in our commercial zone already?”

She then reminded her colleagues that creating more commercial land is not equivalent to economic development.

“People come to Woodinville because it’s different, because it’s ag land a half-hour from downtown Seattle. If you pave over that ag land a parcel at a time you’re cooking your golden goose, you’re killing the charm of Woodinville when you already have rebuildable zones inside the CBD. This is so irresponsible.”

Bauman commented the parcels in question were not currently “charming,” but were “dilapidated” and needed redevelopment.

Said Aspen: “We are not talking about ag land. We’re talking about property that is already zoned office.”

And with that she called for the vote.

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