Morgan Bartlett, the developer of CityView, the student rental dormitory project in the Puget Neighborhood, submitted his final application to the city and the city has deemed the application complete. That means the clock is ticking on public comments which are now due no later than May 8th.
Pictured at the top of the collage above is the CityView dormitory apartment complex as the developer would like you to perceive it. A lovely place nestled in the woods far from anything else. One might think that one is in the middle of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The bottom portion of the collage is an oblique aerial shot of the area to be developed as it exists today. The wooded area in which the three building complex is to be placed is surrounded by single family homes. Quite a different picture.
The developer’s narrative in its entirety can be found here but this is the basic proposal:
“The proposed project has been revised to include 3 buildings. Buildings A & B (20 units each) are identical 2.5 story, 35’ foot tall (height definition #1) residential multi-family buildings. Each building (A and B) consists of 4 walk-up ‘daylight’ residential units on the basement level. The upper two levels contain 16 residential units. Each building has 4 secure entrances, 3 stairwells, and a riser/utility room. Building C is a 5.5 story, 65’ tall (height definition #1) residential multi-family building. Building C consists of 6 walk up ‘daylight’ residential units on the basement level. The five upper levels contain 60 residential units. The building has 4 secure entrances, a riser/utility room, 3 stairwells and 2 elevators (1 gurney), as well as 3,000 SF of interior common usable area.”
Translated, the proposal calls for 106 three bedroom/three bath apartments for 318 residents. The development is to have 249 parking stalls, however, the developer claims that only 212 are required. The developer refers to the three buildings as “multi-family” but that is only the zoning term. In fact, the bedrooms are slated to be rented separately at market prices. No family would likely want to live there with hundreds of college students and pay rent separately for three bedrooms/three baths in one unit. See site plan at left.
All documents submitted by the developer can be found on a separate web page created on the City of Bellingham website. There are about , some quite lengthy, associated with the application. The developer has had 7 months to prepare his package while the public is presently accorded a mere 14 days to comment. This is patently unjust. The Director of Planning has the authority to extend the minimum comment period (14 days) under current city code ( 21.10.210 Minimum comment period). In fact a letter has already been sent to the Director of Planning to request an extension of the comment period to May 23rd. The letter reads in part:
“Under the provisions of the Bellingham Municipal Code section 21.10.210 comment period [“The minimum comment period shall be 14 days following the date of notice of application…”] the Puget Neighborhood Association requests the extension of the minimum, 14 day comment period on the applications PDP2019-0015/DR2019-0036/CAP2019-0037/SEP2019-0039 to 30 days to end on the 23rd of May 2020.
The development in question is a particularly complicated project with submissions (several dozen documents) in a number of categories that require sufficient time on the part of the public and the Puget Neighborhood Association to study and provide informed comments, as well as to consult if need be with legal counsel and informed experts. The developer has had multiple extensions to his application for a project permit over a period of 7 months. Fairness also calls for ample time for public comment.”
A group of nearly 100 Puget and Samish neighbors who oppose the project has already engaged an attorney to contest the density allowance on the parcel. My article of February 14th “Density Allowances for CityView Development Challenged” outlines the lawyer’s rationale.
There will be more to report on this project over the next several weeks. Stay tuned.