Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Still Time To Submit Comments Regarding Talaris Proposed Re-Development

There is still time to send in public comments through next month, regarding the proposed re-development of the Talaris property.  

Though the formal comment period ended on February 27th as discussed at last month's public meeting at the Community Center, hosted by the City's Department of Planning and Development(DPD), the public can send comments after that deadline.

Lindsay King, DPD's Senior Land Use Planner, told us:
As we mentioned at the Scoping Meeting, the required comment period for scoping ended on February 27th but we will continue to accept comments until the end of the scoping period.
Unlike the required comment period for scoping, the scoping period itself doesn’t have a fixed end date. We will continue to take comments unit we begin the DEIS preparation, probably in April.

Comments can be sent by to or by regular mail to DPD, Attention: Lindsay King, 700 5th Avenue, Suite 2000, P.O. Box 34019, Seattle, WA 98124-4019. The project number 3015404 should be included for easy reference.

In this month's Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) "Laurelhurst Letter", it was stated that 75 neighbors attended the meeting and more than 12 people addressed concerns at the meeting, more than 112 people submitted written comments as of February 28th, with more being submitted daily.  The written comments can be read by searching for the permit number here.

LCC wrote in the Laurelhurst Letter :
LCC continues its efforts to achieve the best possible Talaris alternative for our community.  
The owner’s representatives have consistently talked about their interest in preservation of the site, yet have submitted an application for an 82-lot subdivision that would essentially destroy the open space and tree canopy.
The recent construction of chain link fencing around the site violates the terms of the Settlement Agreement with LCC, as does failing to provide required notice to LCC on this and other actions taken. The 1991 “Settlement Agreement and Covenants Running with the Land” includes a series of covenants, explicitly enforceable by LCC, that continue to bind Battelle’s successors, including the current owner.  
The owner’s representatives have indicated their real interests are a new hotel, commercial uses, and office development and have said that such development is the only path for site preservation. But, the owner has not disclosed specifics of what that proposed development would involve and has not submitted an application for those uses.  
That sets up a false choice for the community and DPD. Intensive hotel, office, and commercial redevelopment has the potential for consuming and impacting large portions of the site, despite the landmark designation, with impacts on the surrounding community as bad or worse than those from an appropriate residential development that respects current site amenities.  
Any lease or control of the property by major institutions such as Seattle Children’s Hospital or the University of Washington — something prohibited by the Land Use Code — must be disclosed and studied. The owner has indicated that those institutions are likely the only parties who could readily afford the rent.
To date, the owner has refused to withdraw the subdivision application and has sued to invalidate the site’s historic designation. The owner also has disregarded the rules requiring consultation with the Landmarks Board before filing the subdivision application and cutting trees. 
LCC is interested in an environmentally responsible development that is compatible with the surrounding community. Neither the 82-lot development nor the hotel/commercial/office space scenarios accomplish these goals. These, as well as other more moderate alternatives, must be included in the draft EIS. Impacts on the wetlands, nesting eagles, riparian corridor, parking, traffic, transportation infrastructure, and the cumulative impacts of other development in the area must be studied.   
Nothing should be left to assumption or chance in DPD’s review. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) should be a careful and comprehensive study of the subdivision application, alternatives to it, impacts associated with the subdivision and with alternative development plans, and mitigation.    

Other alternatives should be studied in the draft EIS as well. A separate single-family alternative that would preserve the maximum amount of open space and tree canopy, protect and enhance the wetlands, safeguard the habitat of the nesting eagles, and preserve public access to which the public is legally entitled should be included in the draft EIS. A clustered single-family development — or planned residential development — would  provide incentives for site preservation, can be developed to achieve the goals the owner is ascribing to in its 82-unit subdivision proposal, and should be included as an alternative.  Any option that will be presented to the Landmarks Board during the controls and incentives process should be disclosed and studied in the draft EIS. 

The owner should be required to submit a plan for daylighting the underground pipe to improve the riparian corridor and protect and restore the natural creek at Yesler Creek and this should be studied in all alternatives.. This would include appropriate setbacks and shoreline habitat protection. 
The draft EIS must also disclose and analyze the potential effects of the owner’s lawsuit to invalidate the site’s historic designation.

Last month, LCC sent out a mailing detailing the two proposals put forth by the owner representatives, as well as giving history of the property in relation to working with LCC and the neighborhood.

"Talaris Living" the website put up by the owner representatives in January of last year  curiously now says "webpage expired."

And last month, Nathan Rimmer, one of the representatives for Talaris owner, Bruce Mc Caw under the name 4000 Property LLC, sent out a mailing to a select distribution list telling the Blog Staff that "the update was sent to people with whom we'd spoken with personally or whom had been identified by their neighbors as interested parties."

Unfortunately most of the residents who live around Talaris didn't receive the mailing, and thus were frustrated about not getting the latest update directly from the owner representatives.

For more information on the proposed development and neighbor comments as covered in the Laurelhurst Blog go here.

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