Bainbridge Island’s Planning Director Heather Wright has recommended approval of the Winslow Hotel.
Wright issued her report and recommendation on the controversial 87-room hotel proposal Thursday afternoon.
Opponents to the hotel have raised concerns about the hotel on traffic, noise, and compliance with the city’s development plans, as well as other issues.
The proposal will go before the city’s hearing examiner for a final decision next week.
Here are Wright’s reasons for recommending that the Winslow Hotel get the green light from the hearing examiner, according to her 47-page report.
On whether it meets the Comprehensive Plan, the city’s 20-year guide for growth and development on the island:
• “The city finds that the proposal is in accord with the 2016 Comprehensive Plan…
The Comprehensive Plan calls for preservation of the special character of the Island, which includes downtown Winslow’s small town atmosphere and function. Character and scale of the Island are best defined through the applicable design guidelines and dimensional standards such as Floor Area Ratio (FAR), height, setbacks, and lot coverage. The Design Review Board (DRB) reviewed the proposal six times, giving the applicant feedback and suggested changes including a request to incorporate greater articulation of the façade along Winslow Way West.
The applicant was responsive to suggestions, and articulated the façade to reduce the massing, resulting in development that the DRB found met the city’s design guidelines. As conditioned, the proposal meets all dimensional standards and design guidelines. The applicant also provided information demonstrating that the proposed dimensional standards for the structure are comparable and compatible to surrounding development. The structure’s height along Winslow Way, for example, matches the height of the building directly across the street to the north.
The Comprehensive Plan anticipates growth that will add many residents and jobs and increase needs for housing, goods, services and jobs. Growth is encouraged to be accommodated in designated centers with urban levels of service and infrastructure while ensuring compatibility with the Island’s natural systems and conservation of sensitive environments. The proposed development is located within the Mixed Use Town Center, a designated center, and provides hotel accommodations, a restaurant, space for events and meetings, and approximately 50 jobs. The site has public water and sewer availability and the city has confirmed capacity for the proposal’s needs. In order to reduce the strain on the city’s infrastructure, utilities, and natural systems, the applicant has proposed elements such as a rainwater recycling system, a large on-site sewage system, permeable surface parking and drives, and solar panels on the roof.
The Comprehensive Plan also encourages improvement of aging or underutilized developments over development of previously undeveloped property to reduce sprawling development. This site is currently underutilized and has been for many years. The former uses on the eastern property included two restaurants, one of which was located in the existing structure built in 1912. The other restaurant/bar caught fire from a lightning strike in 2012. The western most property is currently occupied by commercial and offices uses…
The Comprehensive Plan focuses nonresidential development in designated centers and promotes dense residential and commercial development within Winslow to encourage human activity. This proposal is located where infrastructure exists, is within close proximity of the ferry terminal, public transit, sidewalks, bike lanes, provides a bike share program, and provides at least one shuttle for guests which reduces the reliance on automobiles. The proposal plans for adequate parking and provides a space for local events which further establishes Winslow as a place for people to live, shop and work. The high residential density of Winslow encouraged in the Comprehensive Plan requires the Central Core Overlay District to provide services and products that meet the needs of residents as well as visitors. As a place for accommodations, food, and events, the proposal serves needs of both residents and visitors…
The proposal retains over 100 tree units, including all three of the existing landmark trees and plants 137 new trees totaling over 16,000 sq.ft. of newly planted areas using almost exclusively native species. Air quality it also mitigated through conditions for dust and other odors that are required to meet the emission and the ambient air quality standards specified in Chapter 173-400 WAC, and administered by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.
The applicant consulted with an acoustical engineer in response to neighbor concerns about noise impacts and has included a bandshell to reduce noise escapement. The proposal uses also uses landscaping, green walls, and enclosed the trash and recycling under the building to reduce impacts from noise, odor, and light. The applicant coordinated with the trash service to arrange the times of pickup to be mid-morning to reduce noise impacts on the neighboring development.
The City has also proposed conditions such as a wall along the west property line to help mitigate noise and light impacts, additional landscaping around the perimeter, and monitoring for noise and light. An inspection of the lighting is required prior to certificate of occupancy to ensure lighting is compliant with the lighting requirements.”
On whether the hotel proposal fits with the Winslow Mater Plan and its goals and policies:
• “Staff finds that the project is consistent with the Winslow Master Plan Goals and Policies. The proposal provides an enhanced pedestrian experience with six-foot wide sidewalks, three-foot wide planter strips, street trees, and a bike lane. This provides better connectivity to retail shopping, the ferry, public facilities, open space, and residential areas.
A hotel expands the customer base for local businesses, while also serving the needs of the community and visitors by providing overnight accommodations on the Island, a restaurant, spa and gathering space, both public and private. The proposed development proposes sustainable practices such as rainwater recycling, pervious parking and drive surfaces, and solar panels.”
On whether it meets the rules for a conditional use:
• “The Comprehensive Plan and BIMC Title 18 [the city’s development regulations] identify the Central Core as the most densely developed district and promotes the concentration of nonresidential development that reduces reliance on automobiles. Hotels are a conditional use in the Central Core, Gateway, and Ferry Terminal zoning districts and a permitted use in the High School Road zoning district. The Central Core district provides walkable access to the ferry and other downtown amenities.
The proposal meets applicable design guidelines, height, dimension, and other FAR requirements.
The hotel’s height along Winslow Way matches the height of the buildings directly across the street to the north. The hotel is taller than adjacent buildings to the east and west, and is potentially comparable in height to the building to the south.
The design incorporates cedar beams and other natural and sustainable materials that speak to the Island’s character and standard for quality development. A glass entry highlights a large coastal redwood in the courtyard and a reflecting pond beyond with landscaping inspired by the Bloedel Reserve.
The Design Review Board reviewed and approved all applicable Design Guideline Checklists. … The Design Review Board agreed that the building is visually split into three elements and maintains the scale of the district.
The proposal is harmonious and compatible with the physical characteristics of the property. It maintains the existing grade of the site, exceeds tree retention and landscaping requirements, and makes surface parking and drives permeable for natural drainage. The property contains no critical areas and is underdeveloped making it an ideal candidate for redevelopment. Surrounding uses primarily include dense residential and commercial development.”