Bainbridge city council to discuss housing diversity and affordability

The Bainbridge Island City Council will conduct a public hearing Wednesday to discuss revisions to the Housing Design Demonstration Project.

Over the last month, an ad hoc committee made up of a planning commissioner, three council members, a Design Review Board member and a representative from the Housing Resources Board have worked to improve the program.

The Housing Design Demonstration Project was established as a pilot program in 2009 to allow a limited number of development projects that would increase the variety of housing available to residents of all economic segments and to encourage sustainable development.

The committee identified questions that dealt with the program's fundamental issues, including affordable housing, density incentive levels and whether the program should include "Neighborhood Service Center" zoning.

City staff and council members have heard from several residents since council met in a study session Oct. 16 to evaluate the program.

Many of the comments recently submitted to the city have centered on the program's ability to establish affordable housing and the possibility of incorporating neighborhood service centers like Rolling Bay and Lynwood Center into the program.

"I urge you to not change the zoning rules for Rolling Bay NSC as this would negatively affect the rural nature of the neighborhood and further stress the already bad road and utility infrastructure," said Mark Haley, a resident near Rolling Bay, in a comment letter on proposed program changes.

"We moved to this area to avoid the higher density that exist in Winslow," he continued. "I might also add that the city has chosen to ignore much needed repair of Logg Road NE for [the] four years that I have lived here."

Several other residents agree with Haley that incorporating Lynwood Center, Rolling Bay and Island Center into the program would alter their business and residential overlay.

Some said it would bring traffic congestion to a normally quiet area. Others said it could take away potential business space and diversity, which would neglect smart development.

In addition to Neighborhood Service Centers, affordability has been an object of discussion.

Previously the draft ordinance required developments that included 50 percent affordable housing, still needed to obtain 30 points in the "innovative site development scoring method." This outlined plans for decreasing stormwater quantity, improving water quality, providing common open space and encouraging environmentally friendly transportation.

However, following the second ad hoc committee meeting, the Housing Resources Board recommended that projects which provide 100 percent affordable housing only need to achieve 24 points in the innovative site category.

"The challenge is to avoid making it so expensive it becomes cost prohibitive for (the Housing Resources Board) (and other non-profit developers) to use the HDDP," said Charles Wenzlau of the Housing Resources Board.

"Since this tier provides a high level community benefit with the affordable units, the innovative scoring should be in balance."

City council will discuss the recommended changes in a public hearing during its regularly scheduled business meeting Dec. 11.

The council meets at 7 p.m. every Wednesday in city hall.

The public hearing will begin at 8:15 p.m.


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