Friday, December 27, 2013

341 Telegraph Road Meridian Neighborhood Development (Updated 12/31/2013)

Snipped and annotated (in red) From COB Notice for site development at MERIDIAN CAP2013-00070 DRC2013-00024 VAR2013-00031 SEP2013-00046 341 Telegraph Rd : PDF  MapLocation here
Note: I submitted the comment below the break tonight to COB planner Steve Sundin regarding an application for "Development of a 154 unit age-restricted residential complex with associated parking, landscaping, certain street improvements along Telegraph Road".  Because, I walk this area frequently, I am all too well aware of lack of pedestrian facilities in these parking lots and on Telegraph Rd. Comment must be submitted by December 31st, 2013 at 5:00 PM. (Update (12/31/2013) COB will continue to receive comment on this until there decision. See Below)  There is a developer request for a "for a variance from street frontage improvement requirements on Telegraph Road."   Thanks to Wendy Harris and the Whatcom Watch facebook group for notice of this. I think (!) this link will give you an aerial view of the site.
Update (12/31/2013) to my original comments (below)  and request for information below from Steve Sundin:
Thank you Ryan for your comments. The proposal is for  "age-restricted" housing (55 years old +) according the application. The variance being sought is for a reduction from (not elimination) typical street frontage improvement requirements along Telegraph in order to reduce impacts to Baker Creek which flows east to west along the toe of the slope. Typical is 5-foot bike lane - curb - gutter - 5-foot sidewalk. The applicants are asking for bike lane only and have proposed crosswalks across Telegraph to the north side where sidewalks already exist. While the comment period (officially) closes today we accept comments throughout our review - pretty much up until the date we make a decision. Please submit your comments as soon as you are able - they will be included in the record.
//Start original comment to Steve Sundin (COB planner)


CAP2013-00070 / DRC2013-00024 / VAR2013-00031 / SEP2013-00046

Mr. Sundin:

This is public comment  and a request of information regarding the COB Notice of Application and Pending Action for 

MERIDIAN CAP2013-00070 DRC2013-00024 VAR2013-00031 SEP2013-00046 341 Telegraph Rd.  as described at these COB URLs:

I live near this neighborhood and walk and drive to the shopping malls nearby Meridian and Telegraph quite frequently. I also walk 30 - 40 miles each week, most of this through the city of Bellingham. I am familiar with the beauty and risks of pedestrian access in Bellingham, WA.

At the proposed site, the lack of pedestrian and bicycle access infrastructure here forebodes a series of fatal accidents. Although there is a cut of steps across from the proposed Telegraph Ave site driveway exit; there is no sidewalk on the south side of Telegraph avenue,nor is there any cross walk in the near vicinty (inside 150') to safely create passage to the adjacent shopping malls and restaurants: Home Depot, Rite Aid, Winco Foods, Burger King, Mi Mexico, etc. In addition, the route to Winco Foods (the nearest market food shopping) does not include a continuous sidewalk through the Home Depot parking lot. There are, in fact, no sidewalks leading up the Home Depot mall driveway/entrance to Winco Foods.

Telegraph Ave and James Street Rd. have inconsistent sidewalks and no safe bike paths on the way to Sunset Mall; a nearby and popular destination.  There should be bus and pedestrian access that guarantees some modicum of safety for multi-family residences. I believe there are some planning guidelines and liability for the city if they create residences in an area without providing some sensible pedestrian and bicycle paths to schools,shopping and city infrastructure. About six years ago, quite a bit of retaining wall work and some 'ground level' infrastructure was put down. I thought something commercial was going to be built there, but building activity simply stopped.  It has been mentioned to me that this project is for residents 55 years of age and older only. Can you confirm this?

In any case, I rather doubt that a city can simply abandon safe route schools or safe pedestrian/bicycle access simply by declaring a project for 55 and older. I'm 52 next year and I care for my 2 and 9 year old. Many older people care for their children or grandchildren during the day. Regardless, safe pedestrian access at this location is nearly non-existent. Some mitigation has to be done or pedestrians will be injured or die. I suspect that the lack of sidewalks and bicycle lanes on Telegraph and James Street Rd. are a result of a city/county jurisdictional quandry. (e.g. not quite a UGA...still the county...will be part of Bellingham soon etc). But it would be unwise to add residential infrastructure in a city without assuring safe pedestrian and bicycle access for the surrounding areas. Please let me know any thoughts you have on my comments. Indeed, I would like information on the stated:

"Request for a variance from street frontage improvement requirements on Telegraph Road."

What types of variance is the applicant requesting? After reading that, I may have more comments to submit. Also, I will find time this weekend to walk East McLeod Road from Telegraph to James Street Rd. and may submit more comments after such.


Ryan M. Ferris
[address and phone number removed]

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