Bellevue leaders will consider an agreement Monday night that could end a legal challenge to the city's growth plan. Earlier this month, Futurewise...
Bellevue leaders will consider an agreement Monday night that could end a legal challenge to the city’s growth plan.
Earlier this month, Futurewise — an anti-sprawl group formerly known as 1000 Friends of Washington — accused Bellevue of violating the state Growth Management Act by allowing fewer than four homes per acre in some residential neighborhoods. The group wanted Bellevue to increase its zoning density.
The city has proposed a compromise: It will find space for 516 new housing units, the same number of units that would be created if Bellevue rezoned its low-density sites to a minimum of four units per acre. The new housing would be single- and multifamily with density of four to 15 homes per acre, and the planning would be complete by 2012.
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“It’s a different approach, but we’ve approved it. It’s a good way to help deal with the problem, and we think they’ll approve it too,” said Aaron Ostrom, executive director of Futurewise.
The city had argued that it was meeting its growth goals and that state law doesn’t require a minimum density of four homes on every acre. Bellevue’s average housing density, excluding downtown’s dense high-rises, is already 4.7 units per acre, according to city planners.
The group and the city tried to come to an agreement but could not, and Futurewise filed a challenge to Bellevue’s growth plan with the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board.
The Growth Management Act, passed in 1990, requires cities to plan for growth while protecting critical areas and natural resources.
Futurewise has challenged growth planning in other suburban cities, including Kent and Issaquah. Issaquah and the group met this week before the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board. A decision has not yet been made.
Ostrom said that as cities around the region update their comprehensive plans for the first time in years, Futurewise is monitoring how they approach growth management.
Meanwhile, Bellevue and other cities have found themselves defending their planning. Some cities joined together recently to propose an amendment to the state growth act that would clarify cities’ options for residential densities.
If passed, the bill would make it clear that the act does not establish a uniform minimum residential density.
Bellevue leaders are scheduled to decide Monday night whether to accept the settlement agreement with Futurewise. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Bellevue City Hall, 11511 Main St.
Natalie Singer: 206-464-2704 or firstname.lastname@example.org