News

Navy housing rezone takes a shelling

Neighbors and Planning Commission unite to recommend rejection by council.

A proposed rezone for intense redevelopment of the Navy housing project on Government Way foundered Thursday, after a round of shelling by neighbors.

By a 5-0 vote, Planning Commission members recommended denial of an application by American Eagle Communities LLC, for a comprehensive plan amendment that would be the first step in a rezone for higher density. The proposal will go to the City Council for consideration, but commission members were unambiguous in saying the plan offered little to the community.

“It sounds like the commission wants this decision to stick,” chair Donna McKinney said.

American Eagle Communities LLC, a Texas concern backed by East Coast developers, is working in partnership with the Navy to redevelop off-base military housing in the Puget Sound area. Managing Director Kathryn Thompson, said American Eagle’s mandate was to “create value” from current properties, with profits to be put back into Navy housing elsewhere.

The 5.4-acre parcel off Wyatt Way is currently zoned for about 75 homes; American Eagle planner David Smith said the proposed project could see perhaps 187 units, about 30 percent of them “affordable” under city guidelines. The buildings would be situated around a public courtyard.

“I said we’re going to have a large, central open space, and I meant that,” Smith said.

But Grow Avenue neighbors were among more than a dozen citizens who turned out to oppose the project, saying it would be incompatible with surrounding residences.

Charles Schmid and several others said increased density would contribute to traffic woes in Winslow.

For a traffic study, Schmid said, “all you have to do is look out your car window while you’re waiting for the light to change the second time.”

Even two local developers spoke against the proposal.

Kelly Samson, who with partners owns several parcels next to the Government Way project, said that if American Eagle was granted higher density, he’d come in himself next year “with the same request, for the same reasons.”

Developer Dick Allen argued that American Eagle was less a developer than a well-paid government contractor.

“It’s all about the dollars,” Allen said. “Doing business with the government, if you don’t know, is highly profitable.”

Several noted that a rezone would allow commercial development, and argued that while American Eagle said that its project would be residential only, they could eventually sell it to someone else with commercial plans.

Planning commissioners agreed, with Bill Luria saying that even the promise of more affordable housing didn’t warrant more intense development there.

American Eagle’s plans are unknown. Thompson declined several requests for comment after the hearing, saying she and her colleagues had to catch a ferry.

The commission did advance two other proposed comprehensive plan amendments for further study. One would see a minor extension of the south-end sewer service boundary, while the other would allow possible future expansion of Winslow Clinic on

Ericksen Avenue.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Sep 12 edition online now. Browse the archives.