Finn Hill Updates: new street connections, rezones, tree retention, DennyFest

Finn Hill Updates: new street connections, rezones, tree retention, DennyFest

This post consolidates several recent developments concerning the Finn Hill neighborhood plan, including important neighborhood plan updates that you should see in the next week or two.

(If you need some background on the neighborhood plan, check out the neighborhood plan page on our FHNA website.)

Street and Pedestrian Connections – Planning Commission meeting at 7pm on July 27

The Finn Hill neighborhood plan includes a transportation chapter, and City staff are proposing that it include a map showing proposed connections between neighborhood streets as well as pedestrian walkways that will link cul de sacs, particularly in areas where terrain would make a street connection impracticable. For the most part, the projected street connections would occur as vacant land is developed in the future. The staff has identified 28 different street connections and walkways.

2017-07-24 18_18_50-Finn Hill Neighborhood Plan - CAM15-01754 - WEB KPC Meeting Packet 07272017-smallThe staff’s recommendations appear in a Planning Department memo that will be discussed by the Planning Commission on Thursday, July 27. You can read the memo and review the map by clicking here. It’s worth taking a few minutes to see if there’s a connection proposed for the street on which you live. If so, you might like the enhanced accessibility – or you may have concerns about increased traffic. Conversely, you might have ideas for connections that don’t appear on the map.

If you have questions or comments, you can email them to Janice Coogan at the Planning Department, jcoogan@kirklandwa.gov, or to the Planning Commission at planningcommissioners@kirklandwa.gov. Of course, it’s best to take the opportunity to speak directly to staff and commissioners at Thursday’s Planning Commission meeting. The meeting begins at 7pm and will be held in the Council Chamber at City Hall, 123 Fifth Avenue in downtown Kirkland.
Rezone of parcels to the north of Shell station/Plaza Garcia

The Planning Department’s memo also discusses options for re-zoning several properties along the eastern side of Juanita Drive, immediately north of the Shell station and Plaza Garcia. These parcels are currently zoned for multi-family development (9 units per acre) and suggestions have been made during the neighborhood plan process to upzone the parcels to support more vibrant commercial and residential development in the Plaza Garcia area.

The Planning Department is recommending that these parcels not be re-zoned at this time, in part due to traffic concerns. This recommendation will also be discussed at Thursday’s Planning Commission meeting.

Integrated Development Plans for Holmes Point short plats and subdivisions

On Tuesday, July 18, the City Council adopted an interim emergency ordinance that requires integrated development plans for future short plats (up to 9 homes per development) and subdivisions (larger developments) in Holmes Point (the area to the west of Juanita Drive).

An integrated development plan (or IDP) compels a builder to provide a full tree retention plan for the entire development before grading or other construction activity begins. This should help to preserve trees by restricting tree removals due to ad hoc decisions during the development process about the siting of improvements or the routing of utility installations. The Council will hold a public hearing on the IDP requirement at its September 5 meeting.

On the other hand, the Council decided on Tuesday not to adopt a companion measure that would have prohibited tree removals in Finn Hill public rights of way. The Planning Department staff had raised concerns about the feasibility of implementing such a ban, even on a temporary basis. Instead, the Council deferred action on the proposed moratorium; it may be returned to the Council for consideration on September 5.

The Finn Hill Neighborhood Alliance had asked for the IDP and the ban on tree cutting in public right of way areas as interim measures that would protect trees pending final amendments to the current Holmes Point Overlay ordinance. You can read a copy of FHNA’s letter to the Council about these matters here.

You can also watch the Council’s discussion of the IDP and tree cutting moratorium issues on the City Council’s video website. (Click on Agenda item 11.c.2 to go directly to the Council’s discussions of these items.) Interestingly, Council members’ comments may lead the City to look beyond amending the Holmes Point Overlay to revising its city-wide tree ordinance.

Holmes Point Overlay ordinance and zoning

As mentioned above, the City is studying amendments to the current Holmes Point Overlay ordinance – another aspect of the Finn Hill neighborhood plan process. Within the next week or two, FHNA expects to provide the Planning Department staff with recommendations to make the ordinance more effective at preserving trees during new construction projects while giving existing homeowners some flexibility to prune or cut trees on their properties. We’ll cover these proposals in a subsequent email and post them on our website as well. We will be eager to hear your feedback.

At the same time, FHNA will also ask residents of Holmes Point whether they would support a downzone of the area from RSA 6 (allowing up to six housing units per acre) to RSA 4 (four units per acre). The option for downzoning has not been a part of the neighborhood plan process to date and it may be difficult to introduce the idea at this late stage, but the City may be willing to consider it if Holmes Point residents strongly support the idea. We’ll cover this important topic in a separate email and web post in the coming weeks.

DennyFest – Sunday, August 20

Finally, a comment that has nothing to do with ordinances and planning, and everything to do with getting outside and having some fun: Finn Hill’s annual beach party – DennyFest – is scheduled for Sunday, August 20, at O.O. Denny Park. Festivities begin at noon and include our usual mix of great music, a magic show, a dog show, free food and beverages and…for the first time… a wine tent! More details will follow, but be sure to mark this on your calendar now.

Scott Morris
President, Finn Hill Neighborhood Alliance

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