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Neighbors say changes to Coval property still not adequate

By CELINA KAREIVA
Mercer Island Reporter News Reporter
July 9, 2014 · Updated 12:08 PM
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On Monday, City Council set July 21 as a public meeting to review – for the second time – the Coval long plat. It will consider and either adopt or reject the Planning Commission’s recommendations from June. But while the developer, MI 84th Limited Partnership, has revised its original plans, including dropping the number of lots from 18 to 16, many neighbors still have concerns about the project advancing.

“I still think that’s too many homes,” said neighbor Sue Stewart, who lives south of the property, overlooking what is now the Coval’s back garden and orchards. “I’d like to see fewer homes.”

A Planning Commission meeting last month ended with the unanimous approval of the revised application with three conditions attached, including an extension of the stormwater pipe along 84th and an increased setback for side-yards from a minimum of 7.5 to 10 feet along the north boundary. The Planning Commission also asked that raingarden maintenance be the responsibility of the Homeowners Associations instead of lot owners. In May, the developer, represented by Attorney Jay Derr, challenged the city’s decision, filing a land use petition that Derr has said he expects to eventually dismiss if the city approves revised plans.

Stewart said she would like to see a 25-foot setback and hopes Council reviews closely the financial insurance fund, an account set aside for any damages to the neighborhood during construction.

Some neighbors also accuse the city of trying to push through the project and of harboring a “developer bias.”

“Our city attorney is supposed to find a balance between what developer wants and the neighborhood needs,” said Stewart. “It’s unfortunate...There seems to be a developer bias here. When you look at our comprehensive plan, this doesn’t fit the surrounding neighborhood.”

Neighborhood attorney Richard Aramburu in earlier conversations has argued to reopen the SEPA review.

In a letter addressed to the Planning Commission, Derr claimed because this was just a revised application, not a new one, there was no need for further SEPA review.

Stewart points out the unpredictability of construction and Islanders’ concerns about drainage. Trees on the perimeter of the property, like a couple of lumbering cottonwoods, retain quite a bit of water and when they’re extracted they will make a considerable difference in hydrology.

“We’re not trying to stop the development,” says neighbor Linda Chaves. “We’ve always known that there would be some development there...We’d just like it to be more reasonable, not [designed] with the idea of fitting as many homes as you can.”

The July 21 meeting is a closed record hearing, meaning no additional information can be added to the record during that time.

 

 


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