Friday, May 6, 2005

Bellevue addresses building moratorium

Issue involves preventing influx of box stores

Express Staff Writer

The city of Bellevue has set a tentative meeting schedule to discuss the emergency moratorium enacted Thursday, April 21, on building applications for structures with an aggregate roof size greater than 20,000 square feet.

The City Council approved the moratorium after inquiries into Bellevue's development regulations revealed a parcel on Highway 75 is being considered as a site for a model Home Depot store. The potential for a large-scale retail store prompted the council to enact an emergency 182-day building moratorium so city officials could review the city's planning and zoning standards.

"We are not focusing on the Home Depot," City Administrator Tom Blanchard said. "We are focusing on what Bellevue should look like. We cannot discriminate against commerce.

"We have to talk about what (Bellevue) wants to be and how commerce fits into that. What do we want Bellevue to look like, and how do we achieve that through our building ordinance?"

The discussions are scheduled to begin May 19 during a workshop conducted by the Planning and Zoning Commission. The P&Z will address criteria such as building size, shape and architectural design-review standards. It will then pass a recommendation to the City Council. Public hearings are scheduled at both the P&Z and council levels.

As the city moves forward to address building standards, representatives from Home Depot are simultaneously moving ahead to evaluate the feasibility of a store in northern Bellevue.

According to Planning and Zoning Administrator Jacki Saul, Home Depot representatives arranged with city officials a meeting on Monday, May 9.

"I don't have a lot of information. It's a preliminary meeting," Saul said. "It is typical for an applicant to meet with the planning and zoning administrator to go over design. Anybody can come in. I have meetings on a daily basis with applicants, whether it be a home, a store or a restaurant owner. It is very typical."

Saul said she expects the city administrator and members of the City Council to attend the meeting.

The meeting comes after two men approached Saul about a five-acre site owned and occupied by the Sun Valley Garden Center. The site is on the north end of the city, on the west side of state Highway 75.

In an interview with the Idaho Mountain Express, Sun Valley Garden Center owner Mike Turzian confirmed that representatives of Home Depot are undertaking a preliminary evaluation to determine the feasibility of building a Home Depot store on his land.

Turzian said the potential Bellevue Home Depot store would be a retail center unlike any other in the country—smaller and without the box-like structure or orange stripe associated with other locations.

Meeting Schedule

Preliminary meeting schedule to address Bellevue's emergency moratorium:

· May 19, P&Z Discussion Workshop

· June 2, P&Z Discussion Workshop

· June 16, P&Z Discussion Workshop

· July 7, P&Z Public Hearing

· July 14, City Council Discussion Workshop

· July 28, City Council Discussion Workshop

· Aug. 25, City Council Public Hearing

· Sept. 22, City Council Public Hearing (if needed)

All meetings take place at Bellevue City Hall.

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