Hines, previously exempt, now included in moratorium

Developer follows through on promise to give advance warning of building permit application, but Council changes moratorium to include Hines project.

  • Tuesday, June 2, 2015 4:34pm
  • News

After being informed that a building permit application for the Hines proposed development would be submitted on June 12, the City Council voted unanimously to put the project under its moratorium on new building in the Town Center.

The moratorium prohibits submission or acceptance of applications for building permits, or other development approvals, related to new construction taller than two stories. Hines had previously been exempted from the moratorium due to a legal risk and a promise to include public amenities that align with the Town Center visioning process that began last year.

Hines and the city referenced three public benefits: a large public plaza, 200 commuter parking stalls and a high-end grocer. Parking negotiations, which began last December, are “at an impasse” due to the city’s financial situation, said City Manager Noel Treat. A store like Whole Foods seems to be off the table.

The visioning process, which has incorporated input from consultants, stakeholders and citizens to determine the desired future look and feel for the Town Center area, has not been completed. In fact, it has been extended, though the moratorium is set to expire on June 16. The Council will hold a public hearing and decide whether to extend the current moratorium at its June 15 meeting.

The latest design for the Hines five-story mixed-use development did not pass the city’s Design Commission review on May 27. Hines would still be able to file for a permit, but the city wouldn’t issue it until after design approval.

When the Council was making the decision to exempt Hines from the restrictions it imposed on all other potential projects in the Town Center, they received a letter stating that Hines would give them 15 days notice before filing for a permit. Deputy Mayor Dan Grausz said he solicited the letter, but that if Hines did not negotiate in good faith with the city, he would vote them into the moratorium. The Council voted twice on the moratorium and Hines exemption – on Feb. 2 and March 16.

“I believe that this letter that they sent is something that we can hang our hats on and basically hold them,” Councilmember Benson Wong said at the March 16 meeting. “And if they renege on their representation and take a step backwards, I will be the first to vote them back into the moratorium.”

Other councilmembers were concerned about the uncertainties of the project. Councilmember Jane Brahm voted in the minority (2-5) to get rid of the Hines exemption in March.

“We don’t have anything in writing. We have a letter and a promise. We don’t have a legally binding contract,” she said. “I think that if Hines wanted to work with us, if they are true to the letter that they gave to us, that Councilmember Grausz solicited from Hines, then, they’ll wait for the moratorium to be over and come back.”

Last night, she said, “I believe it was the right vote then, and I believe it’s the right vote now.”

 

 

More in News

Report: Only one use of excessive force upheld by Sheriff’s investigations in 2018

The Office of Law Enforcement Oversight has released its annual 2018 report.

Parts of Mercer Island left without power after car collides with pole

A 41-year-old Seattle woman was allegedly intoxicated when the accident happened.

The map shows the location of one confirmed cougar sighting and four potential sightings, as reported during the Aug. 20 City Council meeting. Image by Google Maps
Fish and Wildlife make the cougar case at city council

Officials believe courgar has been “gone for some time.”

Mercer Island rotarians Beth Baska, Becca Palm, Soonok Kwak, Carol Friends, Steve DeVos and Brent Jordan standing with one of the island’s 20 peace poles. Picture by Tracy Drinkwater
Mercer Island Walk For Peace

Rotary Club takes walkers on a journey from peace pole to peace pole Sept. 21

Mercer Island resident Meredythe Glass poses with memorabilia from “The Wizard of Oz.” Glass was an extra in the film, and was be the guest of honor at a party at her retirement community celebrating Hollywood on Feb. 22. Photo courtesy of Greg Asimakoupoulos
“Wizard of Oz” cast member dies at 98

Meredythe Glass was one of the last surviving cast members of “The Wizard of Oz.” She died on Saturday at age 98.

Groveland Beach vandalized | Police Blotter

Police blotter for July 24 - Aug. 3.

Photo courtesy of Leah Llamas
                                IMS will drive a white van around the Island capturing photo and video footage of pavements and road signage.
The City will conduct a field survey of road conditions on the Island

Every three years, the city of Mercer Island gathers data on pavement… Continue reading

Courtesy of Elisha Deo. Vanna Nguyen and James Le, pictured, have been identified as the missing persons whose boat was found Sep. 2 near Mercer Island.
Mercer Island police, U.S. Coast Guard are searching for missing boaters

Man and woman were determined missing after police found their boat near Mercer Island.

Most Read