Some neighbors around the Skanska development project at 3400 Stone Way are asking for those with opinions to weigh in proposed height variance being requested by the developer. For a bit of background on the Skanska project from the Skanska perspective, read Chris’ interview with Skanska USA’s Lisa Picard a few month’s back. Below, a shout-out from a group of neighbors led by Katherine Bragdon, Ted Lockery and Paul Willumson who are asking the city to deny the developer’s request to grant a variance that would allow the building to extend 20′ about the existing 45′ limit for that neighborhood:
Thank you for writing the city regarding the 3400 Stone Way building that as proposed would loom twenty feet above current zoning. At the bottom of this email, you can see the developer’s rendering AND read about an exciting victory but please first read on to find out what’s needed immediately to 1) keep this building to an appropriate size and 2) avoid the precedent of rezoning properties in this area from 45’ to 65’. We do not have Skanska’s financial resources but we do have more neighborhood voices. Let’s make sure we are heard loud and clear…
We need everyone in the neighborhood (all adults in each household) to take a moment to send ANOTHER letter to the City now. It’s just as important as the first letter you wrote. If you touched upon negative impacts in your previous letter, you can use those points now to comment on the developer’s application for a Master Use Permit which includes a 20-foot height variance. We generated 85 letters to DPD this fall which was clearly noticed by the city. Let’s generate even more this time by getting everyone in our households (and more neighbors) to write letters.
In its Master Use Permit (MUP) application to the Department of Planning and Development (DPD), the developer, Skanska, is now applying for a “Contract Rezone” which would give them the special privilege for an exclusive 20-foot height departure for that specific location with no requirement to meet any of the standards of the Living Building Program. We need to contact the city now and let them know that a 20-foot height increase would have significant impacts on our neighborhood.
Please send a letter now to the DPD asking them to deny the “Contract Rezone” in the MUP application for the 3400 Stone Way building – Project #3012601. The city cannot rely upon community opposition alone to deny or condition a permit request. Therefore, to write effective comments on the MUP application, we all need to explain the significant negative impacts the additional 20 feet will have on our neighborhood (as many of you did in your original letters): views blockages of the city, lake and bridges, increased traffic and parking issues due to the increase in building occupants, shading of nearby sidewalks and buildings, effect on the neighborhood character due to the height, bulk and scale issues, etc.
Please reference Project #: 3012601 and email or mail your letter to the DPD:
[email protected] or
Department of Planning and Development
700 5th Ave #2000
P.O. Box 34019
Seattle, WA 98124.
Background Information & Exciting Update
In addition to Skanska’s request for a Contract Rezone, there is still pending legislation to the Seattle City Council to allow for a 20-foot height departure from current zoning for any buildings participating in the Living Building Program at 21 potential sites. Skanska is clearly trying a two-pronged approach to getting the 20-foot height variance. In preparation for this legislation, the DPD issued the “Determination of Non-Significance” stating that the legislation would have an adverse impact on neighborhoods but not a “significant adverse impact” because these areas are not “highly sensitive.” If approved the Skanska building at 34th and Stone Way could be granted a 20-foot zone departure (44% zoning increase) to bring the building to 65 feet (that’s almost 20 feet above the phone poles at 35th & Stone Way) plus rooftop features bringing the building to 80+ feet.
As you may remember, in response to this determination, the Wallingford Community Council (WCC) filed an appeal challenging the Determination and requesting that the city conduct a more thorough environmental review of the impacts of this proposed legislation. The hearing was scheduled for the end of this month. This week, the neighborhood had a major victory for due process. The hearing examiner ruled that the WCC hearing be postponed until after the DPD conducts the environmental review for the Master Use Permit. This means that WCC will have more detailed information about the impacts prior to the WCC hearing. Plus, it forces the City Council to analyze the impacts of the proposed building before the Council takes action on the pending legislation that would allow such a significant increase in the height of the building.
(Updated 1/13 4:43 PM: Added back in previously edited-out paragraph, since readers felt it added important content.)