The following letter was sent by Islanders for Responsible Development to the City of Bainbridge Island Planning Commission prior to their meeting on November 14. During that meeting, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend that the Visconsi development proposal not be approved. The letter was signed by 221 Islanders.
Dear Bainbridge island Planning Commissioners:
We are writing on behalf of Islanders for Responsible Development and the BI community at large regarding the Visconsi development. This development would be the largest on Bainbridge Island in over 25 years, bringing with it substantial development fees and enhanced tax revenues. Should this, along with the right of a land owner to the reasonable use of their property, trump the community values found in our Comprehensive Plan and Municipal Code? We believe that most Bainbridge Islanders would agree: “absolutely not!”
According to the Bainbridge Island Municipal Code, the Comprehensive Plan is intended to be integral to the land use decision process, and central to the role of the Planning Commission:
BIMC 2.14.020, C, 1.: . . . Each commissioner shall endeavor to understand and agree to uphold the city’s adopted comprehensive plan.
BIMC 2.14.020, G: Public Meetings and Hearings . . . In making a recommendation, the planning commission shall consider the applicable decision criteria of this code, the comprehensive plan, all other applicable law, any necessary documents and approvals, and any testimony presented verbally or in writing at the public meeting.
BIMC 2.16.040: Site plans and design review
A. Purpose. The purpose of this section is to establish a comprehensive site plan and design review process that ensures compliance with the adopted plans, policies, and ordinances of the city. . . .
E. Decision Criteria. The director and planning commission shall base their respective recommendations or decisions on site plan and design review applications on the following criteria:
7. The site plan and design is in conformance with the comprehensive plan and other applicable adopted community plans
BIMC 2.16.040, Site plans and design review, E. Decision Criteria: 2. The locations of the buildings and structures, open spaces, landscaping, pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular circulation systems are adequate, safe, efficient and in conformance with the nonmotorized transportation plan.
Winslow Master Plan, Comprehensive Plan Framework (par 3): The Commercial High School Road Districts contain policies that promote the provision of goods and services for residents. While some uses may be automobile-oriented, the overall pattern of uses should promote pedestrian access and movement.
Winslow Master Plan, Land Use Goal WMP 2-1: Strengthen Winslow by . . . providing an enhanced pedestrian experience, with linked access to retail shopping, the ferry, major public facilities, open space and residential areas.
The Comp Plan and WMP both make numerous references to enhancing the pedestrian experience, YET the traffic study done for the Visconsi Development includes no mention of this. The TranspoGroup study ignores the issue of crosswalks on High School Road and fails to address obvious safety concerns related to the Probuild Lumber yard access running down the middle of the proposed shopping complex. In addition,
- the Transpo Traffic Study understates Visconsi’s impact upon existing traffic and would result in deferred road improvement costs to taxpayers; and
- nowhere on Bainbridge is such an intense commercial use located so close to a single family neighborhood (Stonecress Neighborhood).
COBI Staff have processed this proposal as if the Comprehensive Plan didn’t exist, resulting in a proposal clearly inconsistent with it on several counts. BIMC 2.16.020 F 1 directs the Design Review Board (DRB) to engage in a process that “reflects a collaborative effort between an applicant, the design review board, and the community to better incorporate the vision of the city as outlined in the adopted comprehensive plan and regulations.” Supervised by Planning Staff, the Design Review Board conducted a review of the Visconsi proposal that seemed oblivious to the Comp Plan. Concerns from the public about the stripping away of trees and other native vegetation were met by silence from the DRB. Unfortunately this is typical of a general disregard for environmental concerns and has run through the entire approval process for the Visconsi proposal prior to Planning Commission consideration.
Comprehensive Plan Environmental Element:
- Goal 1, EN 1.1: Land use decisions shall be made seriously considering the overall goal of the Comprehensive Plan in protecting the Island’s natural environment.
- Goal 4, EN 4.1: Encourage planning and land development using conservation design methods and principles such as low impact development techniques, green building materials and mitigation that offsets impacts to biodiversity.
Comprehensive Plan, Environmental Element, Community Forestry, CF 1.3: In providing information to property owners and as part of the review of development applications, the City shall encourage property owners to maximize the preservation of trees and to maintain and enhance the cohesive quality of tree groves through appropriate site design and construction methods as well as open space dedication of areas that contain these resources.
Comprehensive Plan, Environmental Element, Atmospheric Conditions, GOAL 1: Protect and promote clean air. Encourage the retention of existing vegetation and the installation of landscaping in new development that will provide natural filtration of suspended particulate matter.
Consider the impacts of new development on air quality as a part of the environmental review process and require mitigating when appropriate.
ALL of these environmental goals and policies from the Comp Plan have been ignored by the Design Review Board, City Staff, and the Visconsi development team. The result is a site plan that is clearly not consistent with the environmental goals and policies found in our Comprehensive Plan.
3. Impacts on the Stonecress Neighborhood
BIMC 2.16.110. Decision Criteria: The conditional use will not be materially detrimental to uses or property in the vicinity of the subject property
Nowhere on Bainbridge is such an intense commercial use located so close to a single family neighborhood. The High School II zone is intended to be a transition zone, with less intense uses (Comp Plan & WMP W 5.3). Impacts to Stonecress would include
- a marked reduction in air quality;
- heightened concerns for the safety and security of children;
- safety and adverse health impacts from increased traffic;
- increased storm water runoff to the Stonecress Wetland;
- significant increase of noise and light pollution;
- depressed property values; and
- reduced privacy.
BIMC 18.06.040 High School Road zone I and II districts. A. Purpose: The purpose of the High School Road I and II zones is to provide commercial uses that complement downtown Winslow. . . .
The Visconsi proposal is sprawl, plain and simple. The Probuild lumber yard complements downtown Winslow. The Visconsi development would do the opposite, contributing to the decline of downtown and other existing retail and office space.
Comprehensive Plan, Introduction, GOALS (bullet point eight): Foster a financially sound development pattern.
Rolling out the red carpet for Visconsi, characteristic of the approval process so far, is antithetical to this goal.
5. Land Use
High School II is intended to be a transition zone with less intense uses. Amongst other aspects of the site plan, a 20,000 square foot medical building in itself is not consistent with the Comp Plan and could be converted to retail later. This is clearly not consistent with the following:
Comprehensive Plan and Winslow Master Plan W 5.3: High School Road District II . . . is immediately adjacent to a semi-urban, residential area of 2.9 to 3.5 units per acre and should have less intense uses than the remainder of the High School Road district. . . . [T]his Plan recommends the area for the High School Road designation, but with a limitation on the size of retail uses.
Comp Plan Land Use Element, Framework of the Plan, Goal 3: The carrying capacity of Bainbridge Island is determined by many factors, including the supply of limited resources (particularly water), changes in patterns of consumption, and technological advances. This Plan acknowledges that, with current information, the carrying capacity of the Island is not known. During the timeframe of this Plan, additional information on the carrying capacity of the Island should be developed. The Plan seeks to take a balanced and responsible approach to future development. As our understanding of the Island’s capacity changes, the recommendations of this Plan should be reconsidered to ensure that they continue to represent a responsible path for the long-range future of the Island.
In the absence of a comprehensive water plan, approval of the Visconsi proposal would amount to a huge and irresponsible allocation of water. Are we going to allow developers to plan how our limited water resource will be used?
The Visconsi development, with its huge electricity needs, would likely require an additional substation, paid for by Bainbridge Islanders.
OUR RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE PLANNING COMMISSION IN REGARDS TO THE VISCONSI DEVELOPMENT PROPOSAL
- Major changes to this proposal should trigger a new approval process.
- Require compliance with both the spirit & letter of the BIMC & Comp Plan.
- Require expert analysis of internal traffic & pedestrian circulation.
- Approval should be contingent upon providing a safe pedestrian crosswalk on High School Road without negatively impacting the LOS at 305 & HS Road.
- Please require a reduction in density of the project as a whole, retaining significantly more native vegetation.
- Require that the (20,000 square foot) medical building in particular be drastically reduced in size and a bond required to ensure that it is not later converted to retail.
- Consider impact upon our limited water supply.
- Anticipate unintended consequences of this development.
- Please don’t be afraid to recommend that the Visconsi proposal not be approved.
In closing, we ask you to consider as Bainbridge Islanders what kind of legacy we want to be remembered by. The Bainbridge Municipal Code and Comprehensive Plan provide the framework for us to govern the use of our limited Island resources with respect for future generations. What remains is for us to stand up for a vision that balances individual rights with community values.
Bainbridge Islanders for Responsible Development:
Ron Peltier, Olaf and Nancy Ribeiro, Tami Meader and Nicolas Daluiso, Pegeen Mulhem, Paul Svornich, Loraine Svornich, Piero and Angela Sandri, Betsy Whittick, David Chicester, Hilde anderson, Amy Millpointer, Charles & Linda Schmid, Charlie Martof, Chuck Courtier, John Hickey, Chuck & Joyce Depew, Rick Gordon, Chiara D’Angelo-Patricio, Carolyn Hart, Daryl Beckmann, Sheila Lyon, Debbie Vann, Marci Birkel, Diana Jacobs, Ed Samuelson, Erika Schriner, Robert Bosserman, Esme Freedman, Heather Andrus, Vince Mattson, Jonathan Manheim, John Lester, Marc and Esther Horwitz, Viken and Margret Tchakerian, Steve and Mary Clare Kersten, Michael Huddleston, Marty Grant, Alex Kraft, Ron and Pat Silva, Norman Keegel, Beulah Downing, Dennis Carlson, Penny Irvin, Rickey Hunt, Robert Dotson, Sharon Ruzumna, Steve and Stephanie Grassia, Omie Kerr, Lei Lani Lee, Jerry and Judy Spigal, Elisabeth Robson, Olemara Peters, Allison Peters Jablonko, Kent Scott, Jim Sicina, Sylvia Jacobs, Beth Martoff, Polly Longworth, Paul Merriman, Suzanne Merriman, Marilyn Ostergren, Stephen Clark, Myrdene Anderson, Curtis Hughes, Joan Hutchinson, Linda Wolf, Heather Wolf Smeeth, Margret Nevinski, Jane Allan, Barbara Sauo, Arlene Bader, Jeri Meyer, Anna Oeste, Bart Berg, Charles Martof, Diane Francis, Wynell & Brana Popovich, Ruth Urbach, Steve Stole, Jane Lindley & Pete Pinardi, Alex & Evie von Reis Crooks, Sally Adams, Kat Gjovik, Dean Horstman, Jennie & James Sheldon, Anna Oeste, Sharon Strauss, Andrea & Scott Peck, Judy Friesem, David Sutter, Marc & Hajni Joslyn, Renae Matson, Barbara Chrisman, Carl & Sally Middleton, Steve & Vicki Johnson, Sean Matteson, Gerrard & Jo Anne Bentryn, Ed Samuelson, Jay & Lisa Bohonos, Len & Martha Korslund, Anna Neff, Annette M Klapstein, Kathleen & Tim Weyand, Wendy O’Connor, Steve Schmitz, Janie Ekberg, Susan & Scott Lawrence, Fran & David Korten, Eric Kuhner, Kimberly Koch-Hult, Holly Christy, Erin Bang-Knudsen, Jennifer Adler, Jon Brevik, Kim Starr, Brad Rubesh, Susan Koch, Moira McDonough, Heidi Blair, Barbi-Jo Smith, Denise Harris, Ernie & Ellen Williams, Ellen Bush, Jan Feise, Robert Royce, Mark &Teresa Costa, Lauren Winkler, Spencer Winkler, Richard Winkler, David Sheldon, Alice Saliba, Elinor Ringland, Sharon Nalley, Debra & Michael Sherbina, Martha Roberts, Barbara Trafton & Bruce Beall, Lydia Harrison, Rick & Susan Matteson, Bill & Amy Chamberlain, Gwen Thompson, Linda Whitehead & Gary Quitslund, David & Kathleen Thorne, Becca Hanson, Dale & Carol Sperling, Michael Nalley, Sharon Nalley, Kathleen & Ted Kraft, Karen Bertram, Bonnie Bakeman Harrison, Chris & Sue Larkin, Carla & Doug Mackey, Eileen Nicol, Dawn & Gordon Janow, Mary Beth Petruska, Carolyn Klassen, Molly OʼHara McCoy, Trish Christean, Mary Short, Leslie Schneider, Charles & Rebecca Sodikoff, Hap Leon, Eric Freeman, Leif & Cecilia Utne, William & Marielle Snyder, Marjorie Rubin, Malcolm & Kathy Mead, L. Alex Sanso, Genevieve Wolf Smeeth, Jon Bayley, Dan & Marilyn Dubitzky, Tobias Eigen, John B. Munson, Glenn & Susan Scott, Jack Bryan, Bonnie Danielson, Barb Morrison, Camisa Carlson, Carina Langstraat & Erik Wood.
- Planning Commission Rejects Visconsi Development, but Outcome Is Still Uncertain
- 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 by A. McClin.