by Jeff Switzer
BOTHELL--After more than four years of discussions and work, a senior housing overlay has been added to the city's Comprehensive Plan, together with several other density designations and policy amendments adopted recently by the City Council.
The senior housing overlay allows a transition of high density from the periphery to the center within one-quarter mile of the Northshore Senior Center. Buffer landscaping and the lower density bordering single-family development was included "to ensure there is some compatibility in the scale," said Bill Wiselogle, co-director of Community Development.
The zoning code is expected to follow on the heels of the Comp Plan amendments, with adoption as soon as February. Wiselogle attributed the timeline to the level of detail in the policies.
"Historically, the citizens and decision-makers have wanted a higher level of detail in the plan itself," Wiselogle said. "You have to do very little additional work to implement it."
The senior housing overlay was originally a more restrictive recommendation from the Planning Commission, allowing a maximum of twice the R-4 density on building footprints similar to large houses.
The adopted policy gives no restrictions on density so long as there is a transition from the density of single-family housing. The adopted proposal reflects a coalition of property owners and developers who pitched an alternative proposal to the council, who then hashed it out in a subcommittee.
"I think it was a good solution. It's not going to make every single property owner happy. It's probably a fair and equitable solution," Wiselogle said.
Increased density on Fitzgerald Road
Between 50 and 60 acres near Fitzgerald Road and North Creek was redesignated from R-1 growth reserve to R-6 to R-10, allowing eight units per acre and townhouses. To the south, the new designation is R-2 to R-5, designating four units per acre for single-family development.
"They came to the conclusion it wouldn't ever be appropriate for intense uses with the wetlands and slope concerns," Wiselogle said. "This provided for the most appropriate uses given the constraints, and allows transition in density down to the creek."
In Canyon park, approximately 100 acres north of ATL in the business park area changed from a mix of parcels zoned light industrial, office professional, and multifamily, unifying the designation to R-11 to R-15, LI and OP.
The City Council also authorized a citywide economic development study to identify for the council additional opportunities for additional retail development. The item is budgeted for next year.
Other amendments, such as redesignating Beardslee Boulevard with retail in addition to its current office/professional zoning, were thought to be premature, though not ruled out in the long term given future construction of the collocated University of Washington and Cascadia Community College campuses.