Alternatives in Town Center redevelopment concept scenarios raise concerns

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Merlone Geier owns most of Town Center
Photo by Steven H. Robinson
Citizen concerns about alternatives in Town Center redevelopment scenarios

Some citizen groups in Lake Forest Park, such as the Brookside and Sheridan Beach Communities, and members from the Lake Forest Park Stewardship Foundation (LFPSF), are expressing concerns about alternatives in the Town Center redevelopment concept scenarios.

Two important meetings will be held this coming week, on Monday, January 14 and Wednesday, January 16.

The Lake Forest Park City Council will hold a Special Committee of the Whole Meeting (COW) on Monday, January 14 at 6:00pm to discuss current community concerns.

COW meetings are somewhat informal, opportunities for the Council members to discuss proposals before voting on them in regular meetings.

For citizens, it is an opportunity to obtain insights into the views of individual City Council Members. Note that COW meetings are not videotaped. The full agenda is HERE

The second important meeting will be the Public Hearing on Wednesday, January 16th from 6:30-8:00pm. Citizens will have the opportunity to make comments.

The City Council, along with the City Planning Commission, will develop new code and design standard updates to accommodate the final City Staff recommended option. There has been no final decision as of yet.

Concerns are centered especially around “Alternative 3” which allows for the future (15-20 years from now) addition of 1,500 new multi-family housing units to the Town Center footprint. Maximum building height would be 85 feet to the base roofline.

To understand the issues, review the staff documents HERE which follow the agenda. This packet was discussed at the November 26, 2018, Council of the Whole (COW) meeting. The last half is all photos of buildings, illustrating design options.

Lack of green space and community amenities?

Some citizens claim that the alternatives will not allow for open green spaces or other community amenities that were part of the community visioning process held in 2018.

There is a whole lot of vision and community dreams to pack into this small triangle of Town Center land that is primarily owned by Merlone Geier Partners. 

Initially there was interest to expand the Town Center footprint to accommodate these visions better. However, after adjoining neighborhood groups met with Mayor Jeff Johnson and City Council members, that plan was modified to accommodate those concerns.

Increase in density?

With the growth in King County expected to continue to rise throughout the next decades, all nearby cities are urgently requested to consider as much density as possible.

Added density in LFP can aid in economic growth, but it brings up some key issues: 
  • What impact will this type of growth, the addition of possibly 1,200-1,500 housing units at the Town Center, have on traffic congestion and added air pollution that is already a problem? 
  • What impact will a multitude of several stories 85 ft. tall buildings have on adjacent property owners and to the look and feel of the entire Town Center? 
  • What impact will such a development have on the environments such as the watershed and creeks, or other community valued habitat? 
Is Community Vision process being included? 

Does Alternative 3 represent the community’s vision that took months and substantial consulting dollars to achieve? This is the second time an LFP community vision statement was created. The first Town Center vision report was prepared in 2004 and went into the city’s historical files due to an economic downturn. 

Comment for the record
  • In person: At the Public Hearing meeting on Wednesday, January 16th, 6:30 -8:30pm, citizens will have the opportunity to learn more about the analysis in the DEIS and make comments which will go into the official City record. A final Town Center vision plan is expected to be completed by the end of February. The hearing will be held at the Lake Forest Park City Hall, 17425 Ballinger Way NE, Lake Forest Park, WA 98155.
  • In writing: All written comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) must be received by February 1, 2019. You may mail or email your comments on the DEIS to the responsible official listed below and must be received by February 1, 2019. 

Responsible Official:
Steve Bennett, Director
Department of Planning and Building
City of Lake Forest Park City Hall
17425 Ballinger Way NE, Lake Forest Park, WA 98155

Update 1/31/19 Change the word "proposals" to "scenarios"


Anonymous,  January 12, 2019 at 9:52 AM  

Look at what happened in Shoreline. The most massive, dense, tall and expanse option was slipped surreptitiously. Good luck, LFP, you're going to need it.

Anonymous,  January 14, 2019 at 8:08 AM  

Our kids have to walk in the road to get to their school bus stop and our street is used as a cut through to avoid traffic on Ballinger and cars will frequently top speeds of 40 mph. We're planning for a massive increase in density but we can't add sidewalks and speed bumps to our neighborhood streets to deal with the increased traffic we are already seeing?

Anonymous,  January 15, 2019 at 5:49 PM  

I can't imagine 1,500 housing units. That's a lot of housing. Where's the space for it?

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