Around 35 Greenwood neighbors showed up to the Greenwood Library on Tuesday night to discuss a new zoning proposal for the neighborhood’s urban core. Although the Greenwood Community Council has no power to change zoning on its own, it serves as liaison between Greenwood residents and the City Council. GCC president (and, currently, sole board member — contact him via the GCC website if you’d like to get involved!) Trevor Stanley emphasized the importance of getting input from the neighborhood before talking to City Council members.
The proposed rezoning plan would upzone the entire area around the planned Fred Meyer development project in Greenwood’s urban core, including some single-family houses that border the current Fred Meyer lot. Upzoning would mean taller buildings and more potential to bring new developers to the area, but it would also mean that those single-family dwellings could be replaced by Ballard-style townhouses.
Some neighbors expressed concerns that an upzone could also mean increased property taxes for residents who chose not to sell their lots to developers. Barbara L. Shale, of the King County Tax Advisory Office, addresse the issue by explaining that a jump from single-family to L3 zoning — L3 is the low-rise zone most commonly occupied by clusters of townhomes — wouldn’t increase anyone’s taxes overnight. She said that the value of a house often goes down when the value of the land itself goes up, and that taxes would likely stay about the same until the next physical property inspection of the area, in 2015 or 2016.
Although most of the debate was about the “buffer” of single-family homes, neighbors were also concerned about upzoning the commercial lots at the core of the Fred Meyer development. Proposed changes would allow buildings that currently top out at 40 feet to be raised to 65 feet. Although this is obviously attractive to developers, Stanley made it clear that the Advisory Group behind the zoning proposal was thinking about the future growth of Greenwood, not about Fred Meyer.
Fred Meyer’s plans for a new shopping center don’t actually include or require any zoning changes.
“I’m going to sorely miss Greenwood Market,” Stanley said, “but that’s not something [the GCC] have any control over. That’s not something we’re trying to have control over.”
The neighbors at the meeting felt they hadn’t been given enough time or information to make a decision about the new changes, so they unanimously passed Resolution 2. That resolution opposes the changes “at this time,” and urges the City Council to “demonstrate community support for [future changes] and the notify those impacted by the change.”
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