(Wallyhood welcomes Lee Raaen as an occasional contributor. Lee, a lawyer and 27-year Wallingford resident, has been active in Wallingford community organizations for some time, most recently succeeding Eric Fisk as President of the Wallingford Community Council. We’ve asked him to let us know what the Community Council is up to, and he has graciously agreed.)
The Wallingford Community Council will consider its position on a large office building proposed for Stone Way between 34th and 35th Streets at its regular meeting on Wednesday, October 5th, 7:00 PM at the Good Shepherd Center. The development, which seems to become more controversial every day, is proposed to be a “Living Building”, but also includes significant departures and changes to zoning requirements that appear to particularly target the Wallingford neighborhood.
Representatives of the developer Skanska met with members of the WCC Land Use Committee last Wednesday. Members of the Land Use Committee were supportive of the goals of the Living Building Pilot Program on which Skanska bases its proposal, and would welcome such a building to Wallingford. However, the committee expressed some serious reservations, questions, and concerns about this specific development including the following:
- The development is based not only on the significant land use departures of the Living Building Pilot Program, but also seeks an additonal amendment to the program which appears to only benefit one developer and land owner, and only impact Wallingford. In addition, the amendment was moving toward adoption with little or no community notice or outreach – which Skanska admits was a failure it is now trying to remedy.
- The proposed amendment would allow an additional 20 feet to the current height limit of 45 feet. With additional roof top additions, the building could reach 80 feet. Changes are also sought to required floor area ratios. All of these may make the height and bulk of the building incompatible with the Comprehensive Plan and neighborhood.
- The City issued a SEPA Determination of Nonsignificance which appears to have been inappropriate for this code amendment and did not adequately consider the impacts of the project on the community.
- Even if the developer is given the special land use exceptions it seeks, those concessions may not in fact result in a “Living Building” on the site. The Pilot Program only requires an attempt to comply with approximately 60% of the Living Building program’s pre-requisites. A failure to meet even those minimum requirements might only result in a financial penalty to the developer instead of a “living building.”
The Wallingford Community Council and Skanska representatives will discuss these and other issues, and hear from the community regarding the proposed development at the WCC meeting on Wednesday. All are welcome.