"Woodland gets nod, Village shelved"
June 9, 2008 · Updated 2:57 PM
"Woodland Village is out of the woods.The city council Wednesday gave preliminary plat approval to the 27-home project on Ferncliff Avenue north of High School Road.I feel like I just got finished with a 3-1/2 year pregnancy, project developer Doug Nelson said, and Wednesday evening was two-hours of labor.The project was approved by a 5-1 count, with Councilwoman Christine Nasser casting the sole dissenting vote. Councilman Michael Pollock had recused himself from the discussion because of his earlier work with the East Central Bainbridge Island Community Association, which opposed the project.Nasser repeated earlier questions about the project's wildlife and stormwater runoff management. But a majority of council members disagreed, and found that the project did not exceed legal density bonuses granted for clustering homes away from a nearby wetland area.Pollock Friday expressed dismay over the council's vote, saying the views of neighbors were repeatedly dismissed.For the community, I think it's a bitter disappointment that the council doesn't take their concerns seriously, Pollock said.Nelson withheld further comment until a 21-day appeal period has expired, except to say that he would strive to address neighbors' fears during development. I'm not going to do anything to adversely affect their properties, he said.Meanwhile, another controversial development stalled this week. The Village Square mixed-use project may be a very nice cart, but it's still in front of the horse, the planning commission found.The equation was simple:The Bainbridge Fire Department said it would endorse the project only if Ericksen Avenue is connected north to Hildebrand Lane. The Winslow Master Plan states that those streets should be connected only after a thorough traffic study, and after improvements to Ericksen made.Neither has happened yet.What comes first, the transportation or the development? planning commissioner Darlene Kordonowy asked. We can't go forward until the study is done, because we're relying on a solution that may not happen.Developer Jim Laughlin has proposed a six-building complex running west from Hildebrand Lane almost to Madison Avenue. The plan calls for 90 apartments and 36,750 square feet of retail space. But the fire department conditioned approval on opening the Ericksen-Hildebrand link to create another north-south corridor. Fire department director Ken Guy reiterated that requirement Thursday. He said that the department's goal of a five-minute response time could be compromised when ferry traffic clogs highway 305 and school traffic ties up Madison Avenue.But as most of those who testified pointed out, Ericksen is not equipped to handle higher volumes of traffic because it is narrow and has no sidewalks.Speakers acknowledged that many drivers go through the North Sound Bank parking lot to get around the mini-park separating Hildebrand from Ericksen.But they noted that large trucks can't negotiate the parking lot, and warned that Ericksen would see a dramatic increase in heavy-vehicle traffic if the streets were linked. Street-linkage opponents found support in the Winslow Master Plan, which declares that Ericksen should be opened only if traffic-calming measures are employed, and only after a traffic study is done.Those efforts are in the works, city engineer Jeff Jensen said. He said that the city budgets contain money in 2001 to study the situation, and construction money in 2002.That was enough for the commissioners. While several praised Laughlin's design, they said their hands effectively were tied.It's wrong to hold the landowner hostage, but we can't get around it, commissioner Peter Brachvogel said.The commission voted to table the matter for a month to give Laughlin an opportunity to reconfigure the project so that it could be approved in whole or in part without the street opening. Laughlin said Friday he had not decided what he would do."