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Coval project needs careful consideration
Many residents feel that the permitting process for the Coval development, the largest residential development in twenty-eight years, is being driven by a flawed process. The City should be setting the highest standards for sustainability, neighborhood character, and preservation of the natural environment, as mandated in the Comprehensive Plan and the City Code.
Citizens are distressed that the developer has applied for 18 lots on this unique, beautiful site. In spite of its location and three Hazard Areas, the Planning Commission is still recommending approval (by a contentious 4-2 vote) of 18 lots.
Those residents who attended the Planning Commission meetings that reviewed the proposal are very concerned that they and the public process have been short-changed. It was evident from the discussion he Commissioners that some felt that their hands were tied and that they were not able to consider any options other than the absolute minimum requirements of the Code. Residents believe that a “minimum” requirement is exactly that: a minimum, suggesting that there can be requirements that demand more of an applicant. Otherwise why not say that they are absolutes? What purpose does the Comprehensive Plan serve if it cannot be used to guide the recommendations of the Planning Commission and the decisions of the City Council? Why should the City even consult the Planning Commission and City Council if they have little or no flexibility? The City Code mandates achieving a balance between the needs of developers and neighbors. This principle appears to have been lost.
Conflicting evidence has been provided by the developer and residents. The nature of the watercourse, wetlands, location and composition of stormwater run-off, and impacts of removing the western ridge are issues that remain unresolved. For example the applicant is proposing to have all the stormwater run-off dumped into the ditch on 84th Avenue S.E. and flow on into Lake Washington. The City Council has to hear from the Planning Commission and citizens to determine the merits of this application.
Residents believe that a decision would be premature as there are outstanding issues that have not been resolved satisfactorily and because the Commission’s deliberations were hampered by the instructions that they could not recommend anything other than the minimum requirements. We hope Island residents will be interested in seeing how their government works and attend the February 24th meeting.
Additional information can be found on our website (www.mi-frnds.org).