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City rules no EIS needed for PEAK
Neighborhood group says it will appeal city decision
By J. Jacob Edel
Mercer Island Reporter
The city issued a decision of “mitigated determination of non-significance” for the Boys and Girls Club’s PEAK project under state-required environmental protection laws last week. The finding means that the city will not have to conduct a formal environmental impact statement for the project. However, the decision stipulates that 16 conditions designated to reduce the impact the 45,000-square-foot facility, planned on school district property at the North Mercer campus, will have on the neighborhood must be addressed before final approval is granted.
Island residents who submitted statements to the city during the official public comment period or have testified on record at a public hearing may appeal the decision before 5 p.m. on Jan. 22. An appeal fee must be paid as well. Land use appeals cost $583 and are refunded if the appeal is granted.
According to the city’s director of development services, Steve Lancaster, this is not a final approval of the proposal.
“The basic decision on whether the project will or will not be allowed, will be made by the Planning Commission on the basis of the Mercer Island city code requirements for decisions on a conditional use permit application,” Lancaster said.
The conditional use permit decision will be made after a public hearing by the city’s Planning Commission, a board of seven citizens, which could take place in the latter part of February, Lancaster said.
In the environmental impact review, Lancaster “determined that this proposal will not have a probable significant adverse impact on the environment subject to mitigation measures provided herein.”
The 16 mitigation measures for the decision include several parking and traffic improvements and revisions. One such measure requires the school district to submit a transportation demand management plan to the city before a conditional use permit is issued.
A unified scheduling system between the Boys and Girls Club, school district and the city must also be agreed upon. The city has to receive funds for necessary street and sidewalk improvements as well.
Amanda Clark, a member of Islanders for Common Sense, a neighborhood group opposing PEAK, said they are going to appeal the decision.
“Our traffic consultant feels there are still some missing elements in the proposal,” Clark said. “Plus [the city] only took into account the traffic impacts. They did not look at the size and scale of the facility and how this will impact the neighborhood.”
According to the decision issued by Lancaster, the effects associated with the PEAK proposal do not reach the level of significance that require the preparation of an EIS, an Environmental Impact Statement, if the mitigating measures are implemented. An EIS requires a closer look into the environmental impacts than the Determination of Non Significance, or DNS, that was issued last week.
Before a conditional use permit is issued, the 16 mitigating measures must be implemented. If the Planning Commission approves a conditional use permit, that decision may be appealed as well.
While the Planning Commission hears SEPA appeals, a contracted hearing examiner reviews and rules on appeals of conditional use permits.
In addition to the environmental impacts determination and obtaining a conditional use permit, the project must get final approval from the city’s design commission.
For more information, visit the city’s Web site for the project at www.mercergov.org/PEAK.