FEBRUARY 17, 1997
City asked to stop developing on the Wedge
New density calculations on the way
by Jeff Switzer
WOODINVILLE--Residents of the Wedge, the self-described island area along SR-522, worked in vain to have two developments there stopped a few months ago. Now they have asked for a halt to more development until the zoning code is reviewed.
Cathy Betz, an active party who opposed the Stone Hill Meadow and Stone Hill Village projects that will bring 32 homes to four acres on the Wedge, approached the Woodinville City Council in January requesting a moratorium. Betz cited the domino effect which began with the townhouses along the freeway.
The area, developed at two or three units per acre, is zoned R-6. The city allows bonus densities for affordable units, which will make the development appear like R-9 next to R-3.
Ray Sturtz, planning director for Woodinville, said a parallel SEPA review and forthcoming ordinance for density calculations will prevent the need for a moratorium with probably the same results. "Staff had anticipated the issue and had the process underway," said Sturtz. He said a public hearing on density calculations is planned for Feb. 24.
If approved by the City Council, units per acre will no longer be calculated on the gross acreage, but rather on the net acreage after streets, on-site recreation, and storm water detention ponds are subtracted. These three components tend to amount to one-third of the area of any given project and, consequently, one-third of the units.
"I'm happy with the decision we came up with," said Deputy Mayor Don Brocha. "Moratoriums are very attractive because they relieve the council from having to get creative and solve the real problem at hand. It is attractive to the public (and therefore the council) because it promises to stop change. A moratorium is a false promise, though; it only postpones change. Our dealing with the problem at hand instead was the right thing to do."
Betz also expressed concern regarding traffic mitigations and dealings with the City of Bothell. "It all comes back to density and traffic," she wrote the council. "The Wedge has limited accessibility by road. It also has the challenge of high school drivers and unfettered growth on the Bothell side."
Sturtz indicated that, at the council's direction, Public Works has been meeting with Bothell regularly on development and traffic issues. "The meetings with Bothell are already proving fruitful," he said, noting that restriping and minor changes to road configurations are planned for some of the bordering areas.
"I felt like they were very responsive," Betz said after the council's discussion. "They really realized that this needed to move quickly."
Betz said the moratorium was not intended to stop the Stone Hill projects, but rather prevent other areas from suffering the same fate. "I'm definitely pleased they're changing their zoning ordinance on density calculations. It'll benefit not only the Wedge, but other Woodinville neighborhoods as sewers come through," she said.
But the planning department will be making sure the tweaks to the code don't interfere with implementing the Growth Management Act.
"We still have those allocations and major assignments we have to achieve under the GMA," Sturtz said. "We don't want to make changes in the zoning code that provide a roadblock to achieving those goals."
Robert Margoshes, one of the Wedge residents who had appealed the Hearing Examiner's decision to the City Council, said he remains somewhat skeptical, but heartened by the turn of events. "[Councilmember] Barbara Solberg suggested the calculations apply citywide, and I agree fully," said Margoshes. "Just because we had a dilemma in the Wedge doesn't mean it couldn't happen somewhere else."