Finn Hill Development, Transportation & Parks Drive Questions at May Meeting

Finn Hill Development, Transportation & Parks Drive Questions at May Meeting

Jon Pascal, FHNA Board member, presented a brief overview of FHNA. He started out with the Alliance mission statement: “To preserve, protect and restore our natural environment and to promote the welfare of Finn Hill community be engaging in civic issues.”  He also shared with the audience some of FHNA’s accomplishments, and what the all-volunteer organization is working on right now. The Neighborhood Plan process and expanding Juanita Heights Park east up to Goat Hill were featured as the key 2015 initiatives.

Mayor Amy Walen then introduced the City of Kirkland Council members, with each member giving a brief introduction of themselves. She introduced City of Kirkland staff. The list of Council members and contact information is below. Answers to questions posed by the neighborhood were passed out in written format.

During sign in, each person selected three discussion topics.  Mayor Walen opened up the meeting asking for questions on growth, development, permits and density.
Why develop areas along Juanita Drive without improvements to Juanita Drive? Mr. Asher responded to the question that a million dollars is slated for improvments within the next couple of years.  The City of Kirkland’s master plan has $14 million slated for future Juanita Drive improvements. Asher said there is “a lot going on in the next year or two that will affect Finn Hill.”
May 2015 Finn Hill Neighborhood Meeting

May 2015 Finn Hill Neighborhood Meeting

A council member stressed that residents should comment now on the city’s 2035 comprehensive plan currently under revision. The process is underway now that determines development issues such as how big of a house can be on a parcel and how close homes can be to one another.

How long is the lifecycle of previous King County zoning permits? Eric Shields, City Planning Director, said that the King County permits were granted vesting for 4 years and that there are not many left. The lifecycle is ending soon for any remaining permits.

No roads have been improved, but development is occurring all over Finn Hill. Wasn’t any thought given to what the roads can handle before permitting additional development?  Council member Shelley Kloba spoke about the intelligent transportation system being deployed on 100th Avenue whereby the light sequence adapts with the traffic.

Conversation continued for some time on the increasing congestion in getting off and on Finn Hill. Resident Steve Dunbar questioned the Council on how much the Finn Hill quality of life is affected by development.  He asked for more thoughtful consideration to growth such as redeveloping strip malls as they are sensible areas for higher density mixed-use development as they are also along key transportation corridors.

The Finn Hill Neighborhood Planning process is key to discussion on growth. Where does Finn Hill want to take the density because it will happen.

Transportation was a second topic.

May 2015 Neighborhood Meeting, Kut Triplett, Kirkland City Manager

May 2015 Neighborhood Meeting, Kurt Triplett, Kirkland City Manager

Several comments cited the lack of buses on Finn Hill. This discussion led to the Council talking about how Kirkland Council members are engaged on a regional level.  Many, if not all, council members sit on regional committees that affect all aspects of growth, development and transportation. The Council discussed funding and how cities in the region compete for transportation funding.

The mayor asked for questions about the Fire Station.  Toby Nixon, Council member, said the fire station “saga has been going on for two decades.” After a recap of the saga, he indicated the city is in the “exploring stage” to resolve this issue, even investigating re-opening Station 24 on 84th Avenue with joint staffing between Kirkland and Northshore Fire Departments.

Park Planning and the ARC was a fourth topic.

May 2015 Neighborhood Meeting Mr. Paul Wu

May 2015 Neighborhood Meeting Mr. Paul Wu

John Ghilarducci, from Goat Hill, raised the question about Juanita Heights expansion and the city acquiring 5 parcels on the east side of Finn Hill.  This acquisition will provide for trails connecting Goat Hill to Finn Hill and provide a safe way down the hill to Juanita Beach.  City Manager, Kurt Triplett, said the city is working with FHNA to acquire funds targeting this land for purchase. He pointed to a grant in process with Conservation Futures. One of the major landowners, Mr. Wu, introduced himself to the audience and said he is willing to sell his land, he just wants to be compensated at fair market value. In response, Council member Kloba asked folks to “get out their checkbooks.”

Shelley Kloba replied to questions regarding the Acquatic Recreation Center (ARC) citing the city is collaborating with nearby cities and organizations to form partnerships and is searching for land to build this facility.

To lighten the conversation, Mayor Walen fulfilled her promise to take a question from a resident on how to get rid of sugar ants in Finn Hill houses.  The issue gained conversation momentum without a fool-proof method although the buzz in the room was just “cover your sugar bowl.”

It is estimated that 80 to 100 Finn Hill residents attended. FHNA is appreciative of the City of Kirkland Council members for planning this meeting. The dialogue offered insight and answers to issues affecting the Finn Hill neighborhood.

City of Kirkland Mayor: Amy Walen (Position No. 5)—Term Expires: 12/31/17
Deputy Mayor: Penny Sweet (Position No. 3)—Term Expires: 12/31/17
Jay Arnold (Position No. 1)—Term Expires: 12/31/17
Shelley Kloba (Position No. 2)—Term Expires: 12/31/15
Toby Nixon (Position No. 4)—Term Expires: 12/31/15
Dave Asher (Position No. 6)—Term Expires: 12/31/15
Doreen Marchione (Position No. 7)—Term Expires: 12/31/17

General City Council Contact:
E-Mail: citycouncil@kirklandwa.gov
City Hall Address: 123 5th Avenue Kirkland WA, 98033
Telephone: (425) 587-3001
Fax: (425) 587-3019

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