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JUNE 30, 1997

Local News

Property owner asks for six stories

6-story development by Andrew Walgamott
An attorney representing a local landowner asked the City Council to change proposed zoning code to allow six-story apartment buildings near downtown Woodinville. The change would apply to a single, undeveloped 23-acre property which must be developed to a minimum of 300 dwelling units already.
   Richard Aramburu, a Seattle attorney representing Data and Staff Service Company (DSS), owners of the parcel north of the TRF development, requested that code for the proposed R-48/Office zone (residential, 48 units per acre, and mixed office use) be amended to read, "a maximum building height of 65 feet is permitted for all residential and mixed-use buildings and 45 feet for buildings in office use." Currently, city staff is proposing height limits of 45 feet for the R-48/Office zone.
   "We feel good about that [65 feet] height," Aramburu said at council's meeting June 23.
   The R-48/Office zone, which has yet to be approved by the council, applies to only one property in town, the DSS acreage. Commonly known as the Sirkin property, the parcel cuts a swath from 140th Avenue NE to the Woodinville-Duvall Road and is bordered on the north by the industrial area along 142nd Avenue NE.
   Mayor Bob Miller was against applying specific zoning regulations to one property. "I'm not interested in spot zoning. I have a problem with that," Mayor Miller said.
   Councilmember Art Saulness said he wasn't against an arbitrary height limit and added that creative use of rooflines and alternating heights of buildings would make for a more visually interesting development than standard apartment blocks. "I think we have the potential to build something besides row houses," Councilmember Saulness said.
   Architects from Jongejan, Gerrard, and McNeal showed the council conceptual drawings of development on the property with several six-story buildings tucked amongst the forest canopy.
   Architect David McNeal said that the 65-feet buildings would be partially hidden by the forest canopy. Councilmember Marsha Engel, who last Wednesday walked the property, disagreed and said that much of the forest canopy wasn't close to that height.
   According to Aramburu, heightening the structures would reduce the overall cluster of buildings on the site. But at the meeting and in his letter, Aramburu asked that impervious surface (building footprint, parking, and other hard surfaces) be set at 90 percent, up from the proposed maximum of 75 percent.
   Aramburu also asked that required open space be reduced. "We doubt that there would be significant recreation demand on this site given its location and the likelihood that the residential units would be more attractive to mature adults," Aramburu wrote.
   Councilmember Scott Hageman disagreed strongly. "Mature adults need as much recreation space as families with children and not less ... If they want to throw a frisbee, they ought to have that chance," Hageman said.
   Council also expressed concern that the property would be sold to a developer who would maximize the number of six-story buildings.
   City staff will report to the council June 30 on height limitations in the R-48/Office zone.The city will also have an open public hearing June 30 on new zoning code amendments to the Comprehensive Plan as required by the Growth Management Act. Second reading of the ordinance is set for July 7.