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Hearing planned for two rezones

Two proposed amendments to the island’s Comprehensive Plan will go to a public hearing next month.

The Bainbridge Island Planning Commission will take comment Aug. 12 on proposed rezones for the five-acre, Navy-owned Government Way property off Wyatt Way, and for a parcel owned by principals in the Winslow Clinic building on Ericksen Avenue.

The hearing will begin at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.

At issue: Whether the proposals should be rejected outright, or whether they have sufficient merit to warrant further analysis by the city planning staff and the City Council beyond the first glance afforded by the Planning Commission.

“It’s a very cursory look, and doesn’t include a very detailed analysis,” said Charlie Averill, commission chair, of the early phase of the comp-plan amendment review process.

Both applicants seek rezones that would allow higher-intensity uses on their properties.

At the commission’s regular meeting Thursday, on hand were representatives of the Texas-based American Eagle Communities, which is partnering with the Navy to redevelop off-base military housing sites around the region.

On that list is the Government Way subdivision, which includes just 16 homes on land currently zoned for about 75. The desired rezone would allow more density still, although the “units per acre” is subject to an arcane formula and cannot be determined at this point.

David Smith, a planner representing American Eagle, said the new project would include a mix of housing unit sizes, from 600-800 square feet up to around 2,000 square feet. The final mix would be determined based on the approved density and the company’s market analysis, he said.

While no comment was taken at Thursday’s meeting, the proposal has already found opponents among neighbors. A smattering of comments submitted to the city have questioned the need for a rezone there, given other underdeveloped land around town.

“Put the density where it’s currently allowed,” neighbor Brian Berman wrote, “and when it’s full and there’s still demand, let’s talk then.”

Meanwhile, local developer Kelly Samson, who owns land next to the Government Way property, said he would have asked for a rezone too if he had been aware of the American Eagle project.

“I see it as difficult to justify a rezone for one property and not the other,” Samson said.

The proposal comes as Grow Avenue residents have mobilized to address traffic concerns on the their street. A public meeting slated for 6:30 p.m. July 27 in City Hall will advance several design models for traffic calming there.

The Aug. 12 hearing will also address a proposed rezone of the Ericksen Avenue property now occupied by Exotic Aquatics. The property is one of five contiguous parcels owned by Dr. Tom Haggar and a partner; the rezone would bring the Exotic Aquatics parcel into uniformity with the other four properties, and could facilitate future expansion of the Winslow Clinic facility.

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