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Revised Coval plan approved

This rendering shows the revised plans for the 16 lots at the site of the historic Coval property. New plans include a tree conservation easement which the city agreed during approval of preliminary plans, would be its to enforce. - Contributed Art
This rendering shows the revised plans for the 16 lots at the site of the historic Coval property. New plans include a tree conservation easement which the city agreed during approval of preliminary plans, would be its to enforce.
— image credit: Contributed Art

After a long and drawn out review of the Coval property, City Council on Monday, July 21, voted to approve a revised preliminary long plat for 16 lots on five acres at 3051 84th Avenue S.E. Much like the city Planning Commission did in June, the council outlined a set of conditions for developer MI 84th Limited Partnership. Islanders have expressed concern for the project since early January. The historic Coval house was built over a 20-year period using exotic wood and stone, imported from around the world. It’s become something of an Island icon. Originally planned as 18 lots, the Council remanded the application in February, sending it back to the Planning Commission for fact finding. Early this summer, the applicant presented revised plans, which included turning a steep slope on the western edge into a tree conservation easement and making lots only accessible from the internal road, instead of having driveways open onto 84th.

To date, staff has committed 107 days to the open record hearing, even though 16 to 30 is standard.

Last Monday’s vote will not be the last time Council parses through the Coval application, but it did set conditions for the application going forward.  Addressing findings that the applicant didn’t make adequate effort to protect pedestrians, Council after exploring other options, agreed to a gravel shoulder on the west side of 84th Ave. It also forbid parking on that shoulder. The applicant has set aside $50,000 for similar community improvements.

Council also agreed with the 10-foot setbacks on the northern boundary of the property, outlined by the Planning Commission.  Council built on the setback design, encouraging the applicant to incorporate vegetative screening.

Though Council and many neighbors have taken issue with the long hours of construction allowed under city code, it could do little to modify construction timeframes since the SEPA conditions have already been set. The applicant agreed to limit its noisiest construction, though some still feel it’s an ambiguous commitment.

As for the future of the koi pond, a converted swimming pool, which the applicant plans to retain, much is also still up in the air. That area of the long plat is designated an open space, but the water levels of the koi pond have dropped before and required refills of up to 40,000 thousand gallons. The former property owners had a well on site that they could draw from, but it may not be feasible to require a future homeowners association to maintain water levels.

Also up in the air is the tree conservation easement zone, which the city will enforce but which Deputy Mayor Dan Grausz  suggested be granted to a third party -- a nonprofit or the city, to deal with any problems that arise.

Council agreed to revisit that point later. It will see the application again for final plat approval.

The full packet of documents is available on the City Council page at www.mercergov.org. Click on “Council meetings online” for agenda packets.

 

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