Anatomy of a Development Part XII - Citizens Win Against University RidgePermalink +
Wed, Apr 02, 2014, 5:00 am // Dick Conoboy
Ambling Unversity Development Group notified the planning department in a recent email that it will not pursue the University Ridge student dormitory project. This is a victory for the residents and homeowners of the Puget and Samish Neighborhoods whose quiet enjoyment of their properties would have been devastated by this ill-conceived plan to house over 500 students in the middle of a neighborhood of predominantly single-family homes. A substantial number of residents, aided by the legal resources available through Responsible Development, prevailed in a struggle for common sense development against a large, out-of-town corporation that had little regard for the effects of its proposal on the neighborhoods.
The 11.5 acre tract, owned by the Hawley Trust, is still availble but the city has not received any information regarding future plans for the parcel. All along, residents made it clear they were not against development of the land but that the proposed dormitory was totally out of character with its surroundings. Some argued the city ought to actively seek developers who would want to use the Infill Tool Kit in an area that is eminently suited to such housing forms and its more appropriate density.
The death blow to this project was probably dealt by the Bellingham Hearing Examiner who invoked the "rule of three" which states that no more than three unrelated persons can occupy a dwelling unit. [You can read more about this factor in my NWCitzen article of 31 Oct 13 entitled BMC Rule of Three Thwarts Plans.] Since the Ambling dormitory proposal called for over 100 four-bedroom dwelling units, Ambling faced the loss of income on more than 100 bedrooms and corresponding tenants unless a massive redesign of the buidlings was accomplished. Evidently, this factor produced a substanitally reduced income stream that was insufficient for the project to be economically viable.
Unfortunately, in fearful anticipation of this horrendous project actually being built, some nearby homeowners sold their homes and made unnecessary moves and job changes. Ambling owes these people an apology for the terrible disruption to their lives and their monetary losses.
In an email exchange I had earlier today with Bill Geyer, a planning consultant in Bellingham, he suggested the following in the aftermath of this near calamity: "...design preferences the neighborhood supports for the site to meet the current zoning density... and citywide, [a City] Council initiated review [of] BMC 20.08.020.C. “Rooming and Boarding House” to define specific zones this use is permitted. An easy text change would be to permit it only in the higher density zones (2500 sq ft per unit or less). This moots the issue of unlimited number of units as the development would occur in areas with adequate services (water, sewer, roads, transit)."
I agree with Bill that this Rooming and Boarding House ordinance was used in an inappropriate manner by the developer and, unfortunately, seconded by the city planning staff. For an explantaion of the density issues involved this this project, refer to the item at the asterisk (*) below.
Project development continues for two phases of student oriented apartment housing on Lincoln St. just south of the Fred Meyer complex. These complexes will likely house around 800-900 students. The developers are not related to the Ambling group.
*It is difficult to get a handle on the land use formula with this project since the developer seems to refer to both the number of units with respect to the plat allowances or the developers desires (variously 176 or 164) and to the number of bedrooms with respect to the “boarding house” use (576 or 527 according to the city’s webpage devoted to the project documents). The traffic and transportation analysis speaks to apartment units and calculates traffic use based on that number, while in other areas the applicant uses the number of bedrooms to justify the “boarding house” use (or vice-versa) and claims it could have asked for many more bedrooms – as if doing less were inherently commendable. It also appears that the 176 authorized units from the Hawley replat may never been specifically approved, except that the number 176 appeared on a plat during the replatting process. There seems to be oblique references to the 11.5 acres in question here (Tract F), but there is no indication as to how that number of units (176) was derived. (With the allowed 5,000 sq ft density applied to this 11.5 acres, one arrives at approximately 98/99 units.) But the developer wants to skirt these problematic numbers, which tend to be inconvenient, by contending that a “boarding house” allows for 250 sq. ft. per bedroom and that this is the factor for calculating the maximum density for this project. The 250 sq. ft. figure is not, I believe, a density factor but an occupancy standard. The absurdity of using the factor of 250 sq. ft. is manifest in that this factor would allow a maximum potential buildout of almost 2,000 bedrooms on about 5 acres (density of 400 persons per acre) which is the actual buildable portion of the 11.5 acres. Even now, the proposed density with this so-called “boarding house” is over 100 persons per acre, compared to the approximate 12 persons per acre density of the surrounding single family homes. Again, neighborhood character is ignored completely." Source: Anatomy of a Development Part VI Hearing Examiner Date Set - A Broken Process, 26 Aug 13, NW Citizen.
Wed, Apr 02, 2014, 5:00 am // Dick ConoboyAmbling University Development Group pulls out. University Ridge will not be built.
12 comments; last on Apr 06, 2014
Wed, Mar 12, 2014, 7:28 am // Dick ConoboyThe infamous American Legislative Exchange Council plans to send its spawn to cities and counties throughout the U.S.
1 comments; last on Mar 24, 2014
Paper Dreams in Fairhaven
Mon, Feb 03, 2014, 5:30 am // Dick ConoboyProfessional and even college sports have morphed into a circus of corporate greed and the fleecing of the public.
3 comments; last on Mar 01, 2014
Mon, Jan 20, 2014, 5:14 am // Dick ConoboyThe developers of University Ridge have been silent since shortly after the hearing examiner's decision on 23 October last year. Will they walk?
Thu, Dec 05, 2013, 5:00 am // Dick ConoboyThe post "riot" conversation is terribly lacking in several areas. We must expand the discussion or risk learning little from the experience.
3 comments; last on Dec 15, 2013
Wed, Nov 20, 2013, 5:03 am // Dick ConoboyThe advice coming from Walmart and McDonald's to its low paid employees becomes more and more bizarre and inane.
Tue, Nov 19, 2013, 5:35 am // Dick ConoboyAmbling's motion to the hearing examiner for reconsideration was definitively rejected. The developer has not met the deadline for an appeal to the Superior Court
Tue, Nov 12, 2013, 5:16 am // Dick ConoboyPuget Neighborhood will likely have in the immediate future 1,300 new rental units that will be marketed primarily to the student population.
Mon, Nov 04, 2013, 9:55 am // Dick ConoboyThe call of the dollar speaks more loudly to health insurance companies than does the voice and well-being of the consumer, even here in Washington.
8 comments; last on Nov 06, 2013
Thu, Oct 31, 2013, 10:19 am // Dick ConoboyFour bedroom dorm rooms have been nixed by the hearing examiner. University Ridge may be in trouble as a cash cow for Ambling Development of Georgia
3 comments; last on Nov 04, 2013
Mon, Oct 28, 2013, 12:00 am // Dick ConoboyIndependent voters are for independent thinkers on the city council. Vote for Burr and Petree.
Tue, Oct 15, 2013, 3:16 pm // Dick ConoboyThe development of University Ridge will replicate the student ghetto that fueled the riot on 12 October.
6 comments; last on Oct 25, 2013
Fri, Sep 20, 2013, 7:09 am // Dick ConoboyHearing held on 11 September. Comment period extended 10 days. Effects on home owners already manifest.
8 comments; last on Sep 22, 2013
Mon, Aug 26, 2013, 4:00 am // Dick ConoboyThe University Ridge process works only to the benefit of the developers. The public is offered tight deadlines and insufficient information.
1 comments; last on Sep 21, 2013
Fri, Aug 16, 2013, 4:00 am // Dick ConoboyThe University Ridge dormitory development approval process is broken. The City Council should act.
1 comments; last on Aug 17, 2013
Tue, Jul 23, 2013, 10:22 am // Dick ConoboyCandidates for the Bellingham School Board need to let us know where they stand on charter schools.
3 comments; last on Aug 05, 2013
Wed, Jun 26, 2013, 7:04 pm // Dick ConoboyA variance request without merit is the centerpiece of a development proposal to construct a complex of four dormitory-style buildings among single family homes in the Puget Neighborhood
Thu, Jun 06, 2013, 5:30 pm // Dick ConoboyD-Day forgotten.
Mon, May 20, 2013, 11:48 am // Dick ConoboyYou can give your money, normally dished out to fireworks manufacturers and distributors, to organizations that help our disabled veterans. Change the way we celebrate Independence Day.
Mon, May 13, 2013, 2:50 am // Dick ConoboySome very important issues with respect to the University Ridge private dormitory project in the Puget Neighborhood will not be considered in the approval process.
10 comments; last on Jun 30, 2013
Wed, May 08, 2013, 8:53 am // Dick ConoboyAmbling University Development has proposed building private, off-campus dormitory buildings in the Puget Neighborhood. Their revised proposal was submitted on 29 April.
Sat, Apr 06, 2013, 2:59 pm // Dick ConoboyDangerous fireworks likely to continue being sold in Bellingham for this 4th of July
1 comments; last on Apr 06, 2013
Thu, Apr 04, 2013, 11:48 am // Dick ConoboyIt seems that for Apple products, you do not really own that hard drive... as a journalist recently discovered.
2 comments; last on Apr 13, 2013
Tue, Mar 12, 2013, 10:50 am // Dick ConoboySeveral complaints to the city seem to have occasioned a postponement of a height variance hearing until a complete development proposal is submitted.
1 comments; last on Mar 12, 2013
Wed, Mar 06, 2013, 10:05 am // Dick ConoboyYou are not likely to escape the coming transfer of $billions from your pocket to the health insurance industry. You will get little, if anything, in return.
4 comments; last on Apr 05, 2013
Sun, Mar 03, 2013, 4:17 pm // Dick ConoboyDo we need to recreate the sounds and sights of the battlefield when doing so brings pain and suffering to our combat veterans?
Mon, Feb 25, 2013, 6:54 pm // Dick ConoboyThere is a private sector development proposal to house approximately 600 students in the Puget Neighborhood on 11 acres to the east of Nevada St.
5 comments; last on Feb 27, 2013
Fri, Oct 19, 2012, 1:24 pm // Dick ConoboyWashington voters have wisely turned down three attempts to create charter schools in this state. They should replicate these defeats in 2012.
1 comments; last on Oct 23, 2012
Thu, May 24, 2012, 8:22 am // Dick ConoboyA case for eliminating consumer fireworks in Bellingham city limits
3 comments; last on May 26, 2012
Sat, Apr 07, 2012, 1:05 pm // Dick ConoboyThe issue is not sprawl or infill, but the money to be made by the type of infill and its placement
7 comments; last on Apr 09, 2012
Sun, Mar 11, 2012, 10:20 am // Dick ConoboyThe City Council outlines their agenda for the coming year
2 comments; last on Mar 12, 2012
Tue, Nov 15, 2011, 10:43 am // Dick ConoboyThe Padden Trails rezone effort is a misuse of the Infill Tool Kit on the outskirts of Bellingham.
8 comments; last on Nov 16, 2011
Wed, Nov 02, 2011, 3:00 pm // Dick ConoboyOccupy Bellingham is already creating jobs for the 99% - but this raises some interesting questions.
8 comments; last on Nov 04, 2011
Thu, Jun 02, 2011, 8:32 pm // Dick ConoboyUpdates on Rental Licensing in Bellingham
15 comments; last on Jun 25, 2011
Mon, Jan 17, 2011, 4:22 pm // Dick ConoboyWhy a ban on fireworks in Bellingham is needed, and a look at the politics of the issue.
31 comments; last on Jan 25, 2011
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