Letters to the Editor

Cave Avenue | Letters | July 15

Development would destroy neighborhood

We live in a great place. We moved to Cave Avenue in 1995 in search of quiet. When properties values were skyrocketing, it was affordable, convenient, diverse, and tree-filled. It is a neighborhood every city planner would love to use as an example of livable city space.

Unfortunately, developers have made a proposal so poorly conceived, it has been sent back to city planning twice. City Council will now determine the meaning of the words “reasonable alternative” in the hearing examiner’s findings.

Tawresey Cave Avenue SUB 15353 calls for the placement of 22 housing units on 2.39 acres that buffer Cave Avenue from State Route 305. It was designated as a buffer when the state turned the property over to the City of Bainbridge Island.

This development would be illegal under current code, but has been grandfathered in despite violations of even the old code. It should not be allowed for the following reasons:

1) It violates safety on Cave Avenue. A traffic study commissioned by the developers does not take pedestrian safety or erratic hours of a preschool and daycare into account. It still does not provide a continuous path from Winslow to the development access, causing pedestrians to dodge back and forth in increased traffic. The proposed sidewalk would merely remove a significant number of mature trees in the neighborhood.

2) It violates requirements to protect the Winslow Ravine under the Critical Areas Ordinance. A hydrologist spontaneously testified against the development at a hearing.

3) It is in a critical area on which any construction would endanger residents of the 22 units. As it stands, a significant amount of water now pours off the site across 305 during heavy rains. A young family died tragically at Rolling Bay in a mud slide in 1997, yet the city continues to allow construction in critical areas.

A detailed article about the case is reprinted on the USGS site: http://landslides.usgs.gov/learning/liquid_earth/. Any construction on the steep highway shoulder would put residents at risk, opening the city to liability.

4) It does not address the issue of runoff affecting adjacent properties. The city must develop guidelines for tree preservation to prevent unnecessary erosion and property damage.

5) The Comprehensive Plan calling for higher density in Winslow was not intended to destroy existing neighborhoods, but to in-fill vacant lots with access to power, water and streets. The developers own acreage on Cave Avenue just north of Sterling Savings that meet these criteria. This property offers “a reasonable alternative.” City planners should direct that it be developed instead.

Our Cave Avenue neighborhood has withstood Harbor Square, the current Gateway development, the HRB Ferncliff development and downtown Winslow. We welcome new neighbors and reasonable approaches to density. But by removing our buffer from the highway and doubling the traffic on a dead-end street, the current proposal will destroy the characteristics of Cave Avenue that we love.

Kathleen J. Alcalá

Cave Avenue

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