Traffic waylays Winslow projects
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:01 PM
"Three medium- to high-density developments in or near Winslow have run into delays or challenges, and the common theme is neighborhood fears about increased density.The three developments at issue are:* Village Square, a mixed-use development proposed by Jim Laughlin between Madison Avenue and Hildebrand Lane south of Safeway. The Bainbridge Island Planning Commission has recommended denial of the site plan; planning Director Stephanie Warren has yet to make a decision.* The Village at Sakai Lakes, an apartment community proposed by Doug Nelson on the property immediately across Madison Avenue from Ordway Elementary School. The planning department has requested additional information, particularly concerning traffic and wetlands impact.* Woodland Village, a single-family home development also proposed by Nelson on 10 acres north of High School Road and west of Ferncliff Avenue. The East Central Bainbridge Island Community Association has gone to court in an effort to undo the city council's recent approval of that project.In the case of Village Square, the principal problem is traffic. Originally, the Bainbridge Fire Department had conditioned project approval on opening the connection between Hildebrand Lane and Ericksen Avenue. Noting that the Winslow Master Plan required a traffic study before making that connection, the planning commission put the matter on hold.Laughlin then retooled the project to improve access, and the fire department withdrew its qualification. But that wasn't enough for the planning commission. Claiming that Laughlin's traffic study still presupposed the connection, the commission voted unanimously May 25 to recommend denial of the project.Traffic is also the principal issue facing the Village at Sakai Lakes. According to associate planner Debbie Randall, the city is leaning towards a determination of significance, which would require preparation of a full environmental impact statement, unless Nelson can provide additional information concerning traffic and wetlands use.We are looking for information about the cumulative impact of that project and others in the downtown area. The study needs to deal with what the traffic will be at build-out, Randall said.The city itself is looking at the same issue. City Councilman Norm Wooldridge has asked for a study looking specifically at traffic in the downtown core, an area bounded by Highway 305 on the east, High School Road on the north, Grow Avenue on the west and Eagle Harbor on the south.City Engineer Jeff Jensen says he is in the process of contracting for such a study, and said the scope of work for an island-wide traffic study is being prepared. He expects a contract to be awarded this summer, and says the downtown portion of the study should be completed by the end of the year.Wooldridge's major concern is Ericksen, particularly if it connects to Hildebrand and becomes another link between Winslow Way and High School Road.We have major problems at both ends, he said, and they will be expensive to fix. We have to take care of the intersection at Ericksen and Winslow. And the Hildebrand-High School intersection is an even worse problem, because Hildebrand is so close to the highway.Wooldridge said that Ericksen will have to be opened at some point, but not without further study. I'm not willing to pull the plug until the study is done, he said.In the Woodland Village case, the opponents have filed an appeal in Kitsap County Superior Court, claiming that the City Council's approval of the plan was erroneous.The gist of the claim involves how density was calculated. The 9.4-acre property is zoned for 2.9 homes per acre, and the plan calls for 27 homes. But the property contains four acres of wetlands, leaving only 5.4 buildable acres.The issue is whether the allowable density is calculated across the entire property, in which case, the proposal meets the zoning densities, or whether allowable density is calculated only on the buildable acreage, in which case, the density is greater than 2.9 homes per acre.More generally, though, the petitioners say the increased density and accompanying traffic, light and noise will diminish the quality of life to which they believe they are entitled.The light, glare, traffic and noise created by the proposed subdivision will be substantially greater than that which now exists, and will be inconsistent with the rural-semi-rural qualities which petitioners sought in their properties, the complaint says. "