Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Bellevue eyes retail development checks

Express Staff Writer

The Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission decided Thursday, June 16, to pursue drafting a new ordinance to govern large-scale retail development. The commission discussed language for a proposed ordinance that would require large retail and wholesale developments of a certain size to comply with a new set of regulations.

Under the city's current ordinance, a maximum 72,000-square-foot building containing two businesses can be built in the business district.

The city chose to review its building standards for large-scale retail projects after representatives from Home Depot in April expressed interest in developing a new store north of downtown. The potential for a new large-scale retail store prompted the City Council to enact an emergency 182-day building moratorium on structures greater than 20,000 square feet.

The P&Z last week acted to adjust the current ordinance and recommend additional standards for large retail outlets. The final decision whether or not to enact a new ordinance will be made by the Bellevue City Council.

"It's not just the square-footage, it's how it's put together, the whole package," Commissioner Beth Callister said.

Based on a similar ordinance established in Homer, Alaska, the proposed ordinance attempts to alleviate impacts on the city by addressing factors such as noise, traffic, the environment and the economy. The proposed new regulation requires measures such as a community- and economic-impact analysis, a traffic-impact analysis, public meetings and detailed design standards to limit potential negative impacts.

"It gives the applicant all kinds of opportunities to mitigate negative impacts," said Christopher Simms, executive director of Citizens for Smart Growth.

The proposal requires the commission to establish a minimum building size that would make a development subject to the ordinance. The commission did not establish such a minimum, nor did it establish a maximum building size that would be permitted in the city.

The commission opted to gather more public comment and reconvene with the entire board during a special meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 30. Commissioners Laira Thomas and Kathryn Goldman did not attend the June 16 meeting.

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