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Bainbridge to host public workshop to discuss the future of Suzuki property

Without a set deadline to surplus the Suzuki property, the Bainbridge Island City Council decided Monday to move forward in scheduling a public workshop where residents can offer input on what to do with the 14 acres of city-owned property.

The meeting will discuss several different ways the city can surplus the land.

“I asked to get it on the agenda so other people could weigh in,” Councilman Val Tollefson explained.

Four options given

During Monday’s meeting City Manager Doug Schulze brought forward four options.

The city can surplus the property at the appraised market value price for R-2 density development, a residential zone that allows two homes per acre.

It can label the acreage for affordable, R-2 density housing and surplus the property at either the market price or a discounted rate. By labeling it affordable, the council will be able to require certain conditions in a request for proposals.

The city can also surplus land for affordable housing under the Housing Design Demonstration Project ordinance, which would call for proposals that combine environmentally friendly designs to affordable housing. Under this designation, the property can be surplussed at either the market price or a discounted rate.

The last option, Schulze said, is to rezone the property for a different type of development and surplus it at market price or a discount.

With these four options in mind, city officials will ask citizens in a public workshop how they would like to see the property used.

Input by the community will help shape a request for proposals.

Located on the corner of New Brooklyn Road and Sportsman Club Road, the Suzuki property was purchased 14 years ago to be the site of a combined police-courthouse building and decant facility.

The plan fell through, however, after a consultant found that police facilities would be better placed in the downtown area and nearby residents objected the placement of the decant facility.

The property was shelved in 2008 despite recommendations to use the land for affordable housing.

A public workshop, Tollefson said, will refresh the community’s involvement in the 14-year-old debate.

“I personally think it would be good for the council to start getting input from the community on what the community’s views are the highest and best uses of the property going forward rather than waiting,” Tollefson said.

Council kerfuffle

Conversation was sidetracked Monday, though, by the nature of a separate scheduled meeting.

Mayor Anne Blair scheduled an informational public meeting on the topic late last week after personally hearing from several interested buyers and the affordable housing community.

The meeting was planned for Thursday, Aug. 21 and would have served as a Q&A with city staff on the details of the Suzuki property.

“I didn’t see this as much as guiding as much as asking questions, sharing information, and finding out if there were things that we needed as a city that we could potentially discuss,” Blair said.

Councilwoman Sarah Blossom disagreed with Blair’s plan to convene an informational session without council consensus.

“Had you wanted to do that, you should have brought it to the whole council and set the ad hoc committee about doing it,” Blossom said.

“I don’t understand what the urgency was; this was on our agenda to discuss as a full council tonight. You have to know that there’s interest from all the council members in this subject,” she said.

Single-handedly convening a meeting that includes staff resources on short notice, Blossom said, was inappropriate.

“This particular time, I suspect I acted as a citizen,” Blair said.

“And I got to recognize that absolutely I’ve taken on a different mantle.”

Tollefson added that the informational would not be a substitute for the kind of workshop he had in mind, and, knowing that there is no timeline to begin the surplus process, he said he saw no reason why it couldn’t start with a community workshop.

While the informational meeting would have been more geared to answer questions by potential buyers, the workshop will be geared to elaborating on each of the surplus options depending on feedback from community members.

By general consensus, the council decided to cancel Thursday’s informational session and move forward in scheduling a public workshop.

 

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