LFP Planning Commission slows down the Town Center Zoning Code update process

Sunday, May 17, 2020

LFP Planning Commission
Photo courtesy City of Lake Forest Park

By Tracy Furutani

The Lake Forest Park Planning Commission decided to slow down the process of updating the zoning code for the LFP Town Center project at their meeting last Tuesday. 

“We made…the decision this evening to take this process slower, be more contemplative about it,” said Committee Chair Joel Paisner, “in light of the emergency before us.”

The decision was made in order to make sure the Commission’s process was clear to LFP residents, and to be able to gather public comment during the conditions imposed by the state “stay at home” order. 

At the same time, city staff, project consultants and the Commission will continue to explore various designs and alternatives for aspects of the Town Center project. Speaking on background, a commissioner said that work on planning for zoning changes had to continue under the conditions of the moratorium that the LFP City Council passed originally last year, and set to expire in September.

“While OTAK [the consulting firm] and our planning director have been working together to create these draft documents, the schedule and some draft language in this code that we’ll look at,” said Commission Vice-Chair Maddy Larson, 
“at the end of the day, the same as with the [ST3 parking] garage, we’ll make a decision on what language we support and what language we don’t support; this is just a starting place for our conversations.”

“We are working on the code that we’ve been working on for the last year plus,” said commissioner Richard Saunders, stressing that no new code was being presented for approval.
The sixteen written public comments presented at the beginning of the meeting were uniformly concerned about a perceived lack of sufficient opportunity for people to comment on the potential zoning code revisions. 

“I’m very glad that the community are paying attention,” said Larson. The Commission will ask the City Council to provide a Town Center process update to LFP residents.

LFP resident Randi Sibonga, who made one of the public comments at the meeting, said, “In making the decision last night to set its own timeline to fully study, deliberate and obtain citizen input on revisions to the Town Center code, our Planning Commission demonstrated its firm commitment to public engagement, transparency and the establishment of a development plan for the Town Center property that is consistent with the 2019 adopted Vision.”

In a separate move, Paisner said he would not continue as chair, and that the process of finding a new chair would begin at the next meeting.

The June 9 meeting of the Commission will consider height, density and setback issues, and the July 14 meeting will focus on open space, environmentally-friendly practices and storm drainage. All meetings are open to the public.


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