Thursday night, November 14, the seven-member Bainbridge Island Planning Commission voted unanimously against the proposed shopping center by Ohio developer Visconsi Companies. The commercial development would consist of nearly 62,000 square feet, seven commercial buildings, and 261 parking spaces on five parcels totaling 8.16 acres. In a packed Council chamber with people streaming out the door, the Commission concluded that the development is not aligned with the City’s Comprehensive Plan and would present numerous problems to the community.
In a detailed analysis, Commission member Maradel Gale explained the group’s reasoning, citing extensive safety, traffic, and environmental issues that either violate the Comp plan or undermine its intent.
The vote, which drew applause throughout the chamber, was a significant validation for those who oppose the development. However, the final decision falls to the City’s Hearing Examiner, Stafford Smith. It is up to Smith to evaluate the Visconsi plan and the Commission’s recommendation against it. City Planning Director Kathy Cook explained that Stafford will consider all aspects of the project and determine if it will go forward, be rejected, or move ahead with modifications. He will make his decision and reasoning known in a public hearing as of yet unscheduled. Cook said she was certain the hearing would not occur before December if not after that.
About the Commission’s vote, Environmental Bainbridge organizer Ron Peltier told me, “What the Planning Commission did was a huge rebuke to the development. To my knowledge they have never before rejected a commercial project like this. A precedent was set.” Peltier continued: “This is still up for grabs, but this decision puts a lot of weight on our side.”
Peltier credited a huge citizen outcry against the development, including public protests, letters and presentations to the Commission, a citizen petition, and traffic counts. On November 5, for example, volunteers stood from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. counting and identifying vehicle traffic coming in and out of the road to lumber company ProBuild which sits behind the Visconsi site. The commercial center would put pedestrian traffic in the path of the large trucks and semis that regularly enter and exit ProBuild.
- Letter to the Editor: Proposed Shopping Center Violates City’s Comprehensive Plan
- Islanders for Responsible Development Meeting 9/20 About Proposed Shopping Center
- Citizen Opposition to Shopping Development Gets Full-Court Press
- Protesters v. Development at High School and 305 Step up the Pressure
- What the Hwy 305 and High School Rd Shopping Center Protesters Are up Against
- New Shopping Center at NE Corner of High School and 305 in Early Stages
- Letter to the Editor: Talking the Talk but not Walking the Walk
- Letter to the Editor: Our City Permits Yet Another Clear Cut, This Time on Manitou Beach Drive
- Clear Cut Bainbridge Island (with Impunity)
- One of Winslow’s Final Forest Ecosystems Destroyed for Private Development
Photo courtesy of Sean MacEntee.