Islanders file appeal against environmental review of Visconsi development

A group of islanders opposed to a proposed commercial development on High School Road have appealed the city's environmental review of the project.

Late last month, the city determined under the State Environmental Policy Act the proposed development posed no adverse environmental impacts if proper measures were taken to lessen potential problems from the development.

Visconsi, an Ohio-based development company, has sought permits for more than a year to construct a commercial and retail complex directly across from Ace Hardware.

The proposed plan includes a 61,890-square-foot shopping center on a little more than eight acres with retail space, restaurants and a healthcare facility.

The development has prompted significant opposition from community members.

Islanders for Responsible Development paid a $530 fee to file an appeal of the city's environmental review on Friday, Dec.6.

"It was expected, because even before the comment period in July the planning department had let it be known that they had intended to issue a determination of nonsignificance," said Ron Peltier of Islanders for Responsible Development.

"To us, it's just a continuation of what we see from the planning department. They're functioning more as a Visconsi development team instead of an advocate of community values," he said.

The city's review concluded that the development will not result in significant impacts on the environment, if measures to mitigate the issues are taken.

The conditions for construction identified by the city included measures to handle lighting, noise and impacts on the adjacent wetland. Graded materials removed from the property must be deposited at a city-approved location. All exterior lighting in the center must be hooded and shielded so that the adjacent properties are protected from extra light and glare. A landscape buffer should be planted on the edge of the wetland, the city noted, and a chain-link fence must be installed to preserve the trees and wetland buffer being retained through the development.

Peltier and Islanders for Responsible Development said the review failed to adequately identify and analyze specific impacts. These included traffic and safety, impacts resulting from the removal of more than 800 trees, stormwater runoff and artificial light from motor vehicles and new buildings.

"The appeal puts the city of Bainbridge Island on notice that Islanders for Responsible Development will continue to challenge their preferential handling of the Visconsi corporation's development application," the organization said in a statement.


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