Bainbridge Island’s Planning Director Heather Wright has recommended approval of the Winslow Hotel, a controversial 87-room lodging facility that would be the island’s first full-service hotel.
The project has many critics, and opponents have raised concerns ranging from traffic to a perceived loss of Winslow’s “small-town character.”
In Wright’s 46-page report, released by the city Thursday, the city’s planning chief responded to specific concerns raised by opponents and others.
Here’s a rundown of the criticisms, and Wright’s responses, as contained in the report.
Comment, Building Design and Scale: Too many rooms and should be reduced, structure is too large, is not a boutique hotel, land is too small for the hotel, limit to two stories, long east and west elevations, height and type of building damage appearance of downtown, concerned that the public won’t see the redwood with building design, aesthetically pleasing.
Planning director response: The Design Review Board reviewed the proposal for scale and concluded that the building is visually split into three elements and maintains the scale of the district per the Commercial and Mixed Use Guideline 15: maintain smaller scale commercial buildings by asking that buildings in excess of a 10,000 sq.ft. footprint be visually split into two or more distinct elements. The hotel is within the BIMC Title 18 dimensional standards including lot coverage, FAR, setbacks, and height. The proposed structure is the same height as the building directly across the street.
Comment, Preserving the Character of Winslow: Will change the experience of the Island, inadequate parking and traffic impacts will compromise the scale and feel of Winslow, losing the small town feel, creates a frenzied and busy environment, downtown is already overcrowded.
Planning director response: The Comprehensive Plan and BIMC Title 18 identify the Central Core as the most densely developed district and promotes the concentration of nonresidential development that reduces reliance on automobiles. The project is proposed just shy of the base density, and .5 lower than the maximum mixed use density. The project proposes all parking on site, with additional conditions imposed to further lessen the use of vehicles by providing shuttle service and bicycle parking as well as pedestrian improvements to encourage guests to walk or use alternative transportation from the ferry. The design incorporates cedar beams, natural materials, tree retention, and landscaping that capture the Island’s character and standard for quality development.
Comment, Impacts to Adjacent Residences: Should not be located next to a dense residential area and quiet side streets, should be sympathetic to existing residences, suggest landscaping between building and residents on the west side for screening, diminishes values of adjoining homes, detrimental to the long-term mental and physical health of citizens and guests.
Planning director response: Surrounding uses primarily include dense residential and commercial development. In response to concerns, the applicant has incorporated landscape buffers and additional tree retention and public visibility of trees to provide relief to adjacent properties. The applicant concentrated the hotel entrance on the east side to provide separation to the residential properties to the west. Additionally, the City has conditioned the project to provide a minimum six-foot high wall along the west property line in the southeast corner.
Comment, Not a Preferred Use: Use for the site should be residential, a hotel district should be provided elsewhere, development is incompatible, shouldn’t be next to homes, condos, senior living, community gardens, schools, or small commercial businesses, contributes nothing to local businesses, no local benefits from having a hotel, employees won’t live on the Island, no need for banquet space, meeting rooms, and restaurant, increase in trash left behind from events, a great place for families of locals to stay and experience the island.
Planning director response: Hotels require a conditional use permit in the Central Core, Gateway, and Ferry Terminal zoning districts and are a permitted use in the High School Road zoning district. A major conditional use permit is a mechanism by which the City may require specific conditions on development or the use of land to ensure that designated uses or activities are compatible with other uses in the same zone and in the vicinity of the subject property. If imposition of conditions will not make a specific proposal compatible the proposal shall be denied.
Comment, Economic Impact: Economic viability, concerned that the hotel business will fail, doesn’t pencil financially, wants the City to look at the business plan, could become an abandoned eyesore, other hotels on the Island are not at capacity, displaces the Seattle Children’s store, reduces quality of existing stores, unknown housing for new employees, will support local businesses and create new jobs.
Planning director response: The City Code does not require review of business plans. Rather, the Code provides development standards and review steps to ensure the community is informed and engaged in the review process. The hotel projects upwards of 50 staff members.
Comment, Noise, Light, and Odor Impacts: Noise from outdoor courtyard, restrict outdoor events, no amplified music, service drive should be moved to the east side, restrict delivery times, bandshell and amphitheater should not be allowed, sound is already a problem in Winslow Green, construction impacts, require more stringent noise restrictions with a study and quarterly monitoring, enclose the loading dock and drive area, sound barriers around external HVAC units, lighting to comply with dark sky standards, concerned with noise impacting residences to the south, restaurant exhaust and cooking odors, truck back-up alarms, sound of disposal of waste during the day.
Planning director response: The project is conditioned to meet the noise standards of the municipal Code. Additionally, the applicant consulted with an acoustical engineer in response to neighbor concerns about noise impacts. The proposal uses landscaping, green walls, a bandshell, and enclosed the trash and recycling under the building to reduce impacts from noise, odors, and light. The City has also proposed conditions such as a wall along the west property line to mitigate noise and light impacts. To ensure these measures adequately protect the surrounding properties against noise, the City has conditioned the project to monitor noise, provide an annual report for the first 2 years, and provide additional conditions if necessary to reduce noise.
Comment, Utilities and Environmental Impact: Water supply concerns, sewage capacity and old pipes, status of the living building challenge, concerns about an on-site well near creosote plant and saltwater, on-site septic odor and possibility of failure, impacts of woodburning and cleaner options should be considered, impacts to landfill, strain on the aquifer, highest standards of green architecture.
Planning director response: The proposal maintains the existing grade of the site, exceeds tree retention and landscaping requirements, and makes surface parking and drives permeable for natural drainage. LID and green design features include drainage system will capture site and roof run-off to a 42,000-gallon rain-water underground cistern for recycle, reusing approximately 500-700 gallons per day. Excess runoff will be discharged to the Winslow Way W public storm water conveyance system. All surface parking and drives are permeable. The proposal has received a non-binding water and sewer availability letter from the City and will be required to have a binding letter for building permit issuance. No on-site well or large on-site sewage system is proposed at this time. The applicant intends to pursue petals of the living building challenge and has designed the building to have low impacts. The project is conditioned to document and indicate the green building features it will meet.