News

City voices North Shore worries

The future of the North Shore Golf Course, located in Northeast Tacoma and bordering Federal Way, remains undetermined.

While the City of Tacoma continues its review of the Northshore Investors LLC development proposal, Federal Way is busy engaging in discussions with the developer and Tacoma as to how the Point at North Shore would affect Federal Way residents, said public works director Cary Roe.

Federal Way is interested in how the Tacoma project will affect open space, storm water drainage and traffic, Roe said. The city sent a letter to Tacoma detailing these concerns on March 23.

Federal Way completed an in-depth analysis of how the development will affect traffic, Roe said. A draft of needed mitigations is expected to be done next week, he said. Federal Way will forward this to Tacoma.

Roe was unable to say how much Federal Way requested the developer to spend on traffic mitigations in the city — but he did say the development will have a large impact on traffic.

“It’s a sizable amount of mitigations,” he said.

Among those is the widening of Southwest 340th Street from Hoyt Road Southwest to the Twin Lakes Village. The construction has been part of the city’s Transportation Improvement Plan for years, but the Point at North Shore makes the road widening even more urgent and necessary, Roe said.

“This will probably accelerate the need for it,” he said.

The city expects the developer will assist in paying for the road improvements, Roe said.

Once the draft is complete, the public will be able to view it through a records request process, Roe said.

“I want to make sure (the negotiations) are transparent,” Roe said.

City staff plans to update the Federal Way City Council on the Northshore project at the Nov. 6 council meeting, Roe said.

Once Tacoma has completed its review, a public hearing, where people can voice their concerns about the housing development, will be held, said Jennifer Ward, City of Tacoma Land Use Planner.

The question as to whether Northshore Investors would be legally allowed to build on the golf course, if its application is approved, has yet to be answered.

In the end, the Point at North Shore development, its review and permit processes are in the hands of Tacoma staff.

Federal Way cannot prevent development in a neighboring city, Roe said.

“There are limitations we can take on development in another city,” Roe said.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

Background

On Jan. 29, Northshore Investors LLC submitted its application to convert the North Shore Golf Course to an 860-unit housing development. The application was deemed incomplete by Tacoma staff. Open space requirements were not met and a thorough wetlands analysis not completed, said Jennifer Ward, City of Tacoma Land Use Planner.

An emergency six-month moratorium on building in planned residential districts (PRD) was passed by the Tacoma City Council shortly thereafter. The city needed time to sort through its definition of open space as it applied to PRDs and the North Shore Golf Course, which is zoned as a PRD, according to a July 12 Tacoma news release.

On July 10, the Tacoma’s municipal code, as it relates to PRDs, was updated. The moratorium was expired. On July 12, Tacoma’s pro-tem hearing examiner announced the application submitted by Northshore Investors was indeed complete upon its filing; PRD regulations, as defined before the moratorium was placed and codes changed, would apply to the Point at North Shore.

This decision pushed the Northshore Investors’ application into the review process. There is a lot to look over, said Brian Boudet, Tacoma urban planner.

Tacoma plans to challenge the hearing examiner’s decision in Pierce County Superior Court, according to the news release. It would not be surprising if the open space issue had to be settled in court, Ward said.

“The city has a different opinion than the applicant,” she said.

To learn more about the Point at North Shore, visit www.cityoftacoma.org.

Impact of proposal

As of Oct. 15, Northshore Investors LLC’s application for development review was on hold.

On Sept. 20, the developer requested the city to determine whether the application failed to address any environmental impacts, said Jennifer Ward, City of Tacoma Land Use Planner.

Tacoma identified four areas it suspected the applicant would need to address before proceeding to the permit process, she said.

“We feel there could be a significant adverse impact on the environment,” Ward said.

Aesthetics: Residents on and near the golf course enjoy views of the course, which resides at a lower elevation than the homes, as well as views of Mount Rainier. The developer proposed to increase the elevation where the golf course now resides. This could affect neighbors’ views of the mountain and landscape, according to a Sept. 25 Tacoma public works document provided by Ward.

Recreation: The development would call for the removal of the North Shore Golf Course, which serves as open space and a recreational area, according to the document. Tacoma is concerned as to how the amenities will be provided to the public once the golf course is removed, according to the same document.

Transportation: Tacoma, Federal Way and Washington State Department of Transportation are all concerned with the adverse impacts the 860-unit development would have.

Schools: Tacoma is concerned as to how the development would impact the Tacoma Public School District. Northshore Investors LLC has not agreed upon any mitigations to prevent the overcrowding of Tacoma schools, according to the document.

Tacoma has not required an Environmental Impact Statement and instead is using one from 1981, Ward said.

The four areas of concern were not reviewed in the 1981 statement, she said.

The city does anticipate requiring a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, she said.

The city is waiting for the developer to submit mitigation proposals in the four above mentioned areas before the review process will proceed, Ward said.

She suspects those proposals to be made within the month, she said.

“The reality is everything having to do with this project will probably be challenged,” said Brian Boudet, City of Tacoma urban planner.

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