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City hearing examiner denies developer’s controversial Northshore housing application

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on Jan. 8, 2010 at 10:25 am | 9 Comments »
January 8, 2010 1:44 pm

NORTHSHORE GOLF

A city hearing examiner yesterday denied a developer’s controversial application for a rezone in Northeast Tacoma that would have allowed hundreds of homes to be built over the Northshore Golf Course.

The matter will next go to the City Council, which will have final say on the project.

Some interesting findings in hearing examiner pro tem Wick Dufford’s opinion:

The effect of approving the subject plat would be to eliminate the designated open space in adjacent plats. It is contrary to the public interest to allow any applicant to achieve such a result unilaterally. The interests of too many others are left out of the decisional equation. The Examiner concludes that the Preliminary Plat should be denied because the public interest will not be served by the platting of the subdivision applied for. … Ultimately this may mean that requests to alter the adjacent plats need to be made and approved before the subject application can be approved.

As to public opinion, there has been an unusually large outpouring of it here. It is all emphatically in opposition to getting rid of the golf course. So public opinion has not changed at all. If anything, it has hardened. The applicants quote cases saying that “community displeasure” should not be the basis for denial. But in rezone cases it is a recognized factor to be considered. The public sentiment expressed in this case is primarily from people who have a genuine and substantial interest in the outcome. There is little point in having public hearings, if such interested public sentiment counts for nothing.

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The applicants here have labored mightily to create a development that would mitigate all environmental impacts to below the level of significance. Despite all efforts, there is really no way to hide the insertion of over 800 new homes into an area where they do not now exist. And there is really no artfulness of design that can make such a development a less than significant change in the perception of open space by those living in the adjacent plats. The proposed development is well and thoughtfully designed, but given the history and physical context of this particular PRD, it is in the wrong place.

You can find the decision on the citizen opposition group Save Northeast Tacoma’s Web site. Check back here later for more details and reaction.

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