Amendment 8: Create a Private Community Facilities Zone

WHO: The applicants for this comprehensive plan amendment include the Stroum Jewish Community Center (SJCC), the French American School of Puget Sound (FASPS) and Herzl-Ner Tamid (HNT). The amendment, along with a potential rezone, would facilitate a master planning and redevelopment process for these institutions.

WHAT: The City is considering a comprehensive plan amendment along with a rezone to create a new zone called Private Community Facilities Zone. The zone is intended to be applied to private community facilities that are located in residential zones. These types of facilitates provide great benefit to the community, however they have the ability to result in impacts due to increased traffic, lighting, and noise than what is typical in a residential zone. The purpose of the rezoning is to provide predictability to the community and allow for thoughtful development of community facilities that are located in residential zones. The proposed comprehensive plan amendment would identify policy direction to guide the writing and possible adoption of zoning code that would apply to the proposed new zone.

WHY: The properties owned by the applicants currently consist of four zones: R-8.4, R-9.6, B, and C-O (Single-family residential zones, Business zone and Commercial-Office zone). Some of the properties span multiple zones. Each of these zones has different requirements for lot coverage, gross floor area, height, parking, etc. While the properties can be redeveloped under the current zoning, the complexity of the requirements across the multiple zones makes it more difficult to understand what is allowed and to plan for potential impacts of redevelopment. A new zone specific to community facilities can better address the potential impacts and provide more clarity to the community around what to expect from redevelopment. The process of the comprehensive plan update and rezone will also allow for more public review and input into the future plans for the SJCC/FASPS/HNT sites.


WHO: The applicants for this comprehensive plan amendment include the Stroum Jewish Community Center (SJCC), the French American School of Puget Sound (FASPS) and Herzl-Ner Tamid (HNT). The amendment, along with a potential rezone, would facilitate a master planning and redevelopment process for these institutions.

WHAT: The City is considering a comprehensive plan amendment along with a rezone to create a new zone called Private Community Facilities Zone. The zone is intended to be applied to private community facilities that are located in residential zones. These types of facilitates provide great benefit to the community, however they have the ability to result in impacts due to increased traffic, lighting, and noise than what is typical in a residential zone. The purpose of the rezoning is to provide predictability to the community and allow for thoughtful development of community facilities that are located in residential zones. The proposed comprehensive plan amendment would identify policy direction to guide the writing and possible adoption of zoning code that would apply to the proposed new zone.

WHY: The properties owned by the applicants currently consist of four zones: R-8.4, R-9.6, B, and C-O (Single-family residential zones, Business zone and Commercial-Office zone). Some of the properties span multiple zones. Each of these zones has different requirements for lot coverage, gross floor area, height, parking, etc. While the properties can be redeveloped under the current zoning, the complexity of the requirements across the multiple zones makes it more difficult to understand what is allowed and to plan for potential impacts of redevelopment. A new zone specific to community facilities can better address the potential impacts and provide more clarity to the community around what to expect from redevelopment. The process of the comprehensive plan update and rezone will also allow for more public review and input into the future plans for the SJCC/FASPS/HNT sites.



Commenting Closed: The 2018 Comprehensive Plan Amendments were approved by City Council on November 20, 2018

Why are these residential zones not protected and the applicant's told that they must remain residential and they must work within their current commercial zones if they would like to rebuild?? If this passes then how do we ever protect residences adjacent to commercial zones from being rezoned in the future?

MIAlumna 11 months ago

I appreciate the information and interaction in this new forum, I'm excited to see this moving forward with facilities that will serve us well into the future. I have found the JCC to be a great neighbor and wish them the best.

SEM about 1 year ago

I live in the house in the bottom left corner of drawing above this note. I've observed that few people realise that if you click on the illustration you can see the entire plan (8 pages). If youdo that you will realise what a monster is being presented as reasonable development.If this became a reality the congestion at the E Mercer I 90 on/off ramps (already a problem)would become intolerable. This complex would be the largest school on Mercer Island...but would be predominantly populated with non resident children.The new membership of the "J" (Stroum Jewish Community Center of GREATER SEATTLE) will be mostly non residents. The residents of Mercer Island will support the infrastructure, deal with the burden of traffic congestion, loose residential property tax (all applicants are NPO's) and then pay higher taxes because the City Council has done a great job maintaining the "single family" character of our community. Look carefully at the illustration. Bigger than COSTCO, but without any revenue for the City.Matt Goldbach

Matt Goldbach about 1 year ago

I am a five-year resident of Mercer Island and my three kids attend the French American School of Puget Sound. I'd like to thank the Planning Commission for their work and am glad to see the commission has recommended Amendment 8 to the City Council. The three institutions in this process are valuable members of our community and make Mercer Island a culturally richer place to live.I look forward to seeing each organization planfully evolve in the coming years, and I urge the City Council to enact these zoning designations to facilitate this development in a way that is in harmony with the community we all want to live in.Steve Dispensa

Steve about 1 year ago

Hi,I have lived on Mercer Island for 6 years and plan to be here a very long time. I belong to both Herzl Ner Tamid and the SJCC. I am writing to request your support of Comprehensive Plan Amendment 8. I believe this Amendment will allow for wiser, more comprehensive design and development, helping the Stroum Jewish Community Center engage the community in its redesign and prioritize concerns related to traffic management, lighting, and landscape design to enhance the neighborhood. The SJCC is a long-standing community asset on Mercer Island and always works to serve the community’s best interest. Thank you for your consideration.Sincerely,MEG

MEG about 1 year ago

Hello,I would like to thank the Planning Commission for their work on this issue. I want to give a special thanks to Commissioner Ted Weinberg--his efforts to try to satisfy a variety of needs on this issue was commendable. If this issue advances past the Council, I look forward to working with the Planning Commission again. Thank you.

Ryan about 1 year ago

Hi,My wife and I moved to Mercer Island as newlyweds 14 years ago and live just up the street from the three organizations wanting to come together under a new zone. So we live in the immediate neighborhood most impacted by the very problems these three organizations bring with their increasing popularity. The traffic problems are obviously a problem of parking. Traffic gets backed up with no where for cars to go. Cars at popular times fill the neighborhood itself. They need more parking. With traffic backed up, frustration and impatience lead to increase dangers for pedestrians.It is clear to us that this Comprehensive Plan Amendment is the best path forward to addressing the very issues everyone is concerned about. We understand they have plans to expand, but with that expansion, if properly planned, the expansion of traffic can be taken well into consideration so there are no backups. This amendment allows us all to see what they can come up with. Obviously, not allowing the amendment to go forward will not allow these organizations to address the problems our community faces. We are hoping the amendment is allowed to pass so we can begin this much needed planning and subsequent conversation to also go forward.Thank you for giving us an opportunity to participate in the conversation.

NeighborD about 1 year ago

This rezoning reduces the tax base at a critical juncture when the city is asking for more revenue and there are looming capital projects that will require broad financial support. This proposal is out of sync with the needs of the community and mostly to benefit non-residents. The proposed changes also set precedent for other developments following the same approach, further eroding the tax base. I, and my family enjoy programs the 'J' provides, but their development should not come on the shoulders of the community at large.

Jon Hanlon about 1 year ago

I've lived on the Island for 10 years and belong to both Herzl Ner Tamid and the SJCC. I believe this amendment is the best way to serve the needs of the islanders, ensuring the HNT, the SJCC and the FASPS work WITH the community to do development their private property. This amendment will force them to considering traffic needs, neighborhood needs and more. I fully support this amendment and encourage the council to support it as well.

jsytman about 1 year ago

I have live on Mercer Island at 2029 82nd ave se for 13 years, and my children attended the French American School of Puget Sound before later transferring to IMS and then MIHS, and i now work at the French American School of Puget Sound (FASPS).I fully support Amendment 8, Private Community Facilities, to the Comprehensive Plan as it would allow and encourage FASPS to work with the SJCC and Herzl-Ner Tamid synagogue to responsibly address their shared growth challenges (traffic, efficient use of land, etc.) in ways that would speak to the concerns of their neighbors and, more broadly, encourage smart growth on Mercer Island moving forward.

Deborah about 1 year ago

My family are both neighbors and members of the JCC. We value what it offers and are inclined to *eventually* support expansion / modernization, but we do have some specific concerns that we'd like to see addressed before this moves forward. I'm happy that there's been some opportunity for public input, but I've yet to see that input clearly reflected in the plans. Personally, I have several concerns as a neighbor that I feel the Island has a right to see addressed: 1) pedestrian/cyclist safety, 2) traffic, 3) parking. These issues are inter-related. JCC/HNT/FAS overflow parking onto EMW make it unsafe for pedestrians and disrupts traffic. Lack of public transit service within a mile of the area forces patrons to use cars to access these facilities. EMW is narrow and does not have protected bike and pedestrian paths through the area, so parked cars force pedestrians into vehicle lane.. To support this expansion plan, EMW should be modernized/expanded as well: sidewalks, protected bike lanes, and a serviced transit stop to access Seattle, Bellevue, and the town center.Sadly, I worry that we'll inevitably need a traffic light or 4-way stop at the entrance to the JCC/FAS. This will slow down traffic for everyone in the neighborhood, but increased traffic may necessitate it. 3-4 times I've had to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting people pulling out of the JCC. Such a change to traffic patterns should be part of the current discussions, as it is a likely consequence of this expansion. This should be made transparent to everyone who lives down EMW, who will face longer commutes.Finally, there is the broader question of the role of splitting the Island up into "private communities". Is this what we want for the future of Mercer Island? Inevitably, this will crowd-out public support and funding for public schools and facilities that duplicate what the JCC/FAS/HNT offer. Does this make our Island better? I'd like to see how some of these, such as playgrounds + cafe, can be opened to the public as part of these plans. Having a coffee shop, cafe, playground, etc at this end of the Island would be welcome. But this proposal builds those things behind walls and a membership-fee - reducing support for any public alternative.

Erik about 1 year ago

I have written the Planning Commission to ask it to support Comprehensive Plan Amendment 8, which would create the Private Community Facilities zoning designation. My family has lived on Mercer Island since 1986, and we have been members of both Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation and the Stroum JCC for many years.Over the years, community involvement in both organizations has grown; the French American School has been established on land adjoining the Stroum JCC; and other organizations have expressed an interest in joining those organizations on the land that they control. Both Herzl-Ner Tamid and the Stroum JCC are in aging buildings that need to be updated and modernized to meet the needs of their members, including those who live on Mercer Island and those from nearby communities.Herzl-Ner Tamid, the Stroum JCC, and the French American School provide invaluable services to thousands of people, and help make Mercer Island a center of educational, cultural, spiritual, and health- and fitness-related activities for the Puget Sound region. They have a history of working well together. It would be of great benefit to the organizations, their members, students, program participants, and others, as well as those living nearby, if the organizations could plan their joint future together, in an open and regulated process that would enhance the development of Mercer Island as a whole as well as their own interests. A planning process of the sort being proposed would enhance the development of the kinds of non-profit organizations that can be so vital to the civic health of every community.

Paul Burstein about 1 year ago

The current zoning already allows redevelopment of these properties. It is a choice between piecemeal uncoordinated change or coordinated and well thought out change. Moreover, by moving the JCC and Herzl to the same side of the street, the plan improves the safety of these two organizations. Given that the JCC has already been the target of a shooting, this plan should be supported by all.

MIHSarea about 1 year ago

As a Mercer Island resident, member of Herzl-Ner Tamid, and frequent attendee of events at the Stroum JCC, I am thrilled by the visionary prospect of consolidating these vital but aging facilities into a unified, safe, and secure campus to serve members and friends of Mercer Island’s Jewish community, while also providing a new home for the French American School. I am puzzled, however, by the contention that what amounts to little more than reshuffling these longstanding Mercer Island institutions within their existing collective footprint will alter the character of the area. And I am dismayed by the suggestion these institutions strengthen themselves at the expense of Mercer Islanders because they serve broader communities. To the contrary, Mercer Islanders enjoy services, programming, and facilities that they otherwise would not because of the support of off-islanders for these institutions. Rezoning the underlying properties from their current patchwork to Private Community Facilities merely codifies the already existing use, and simplifies redevelopment that must and will occur regardless. Please support the perpetuation and enhancement of these community assets for future generations of Mercer Islanders by making this common-sense change.

Ian Crosby about 1 year ago

Dear Mercer Island Planning Commission and City Council,I live on Mercer Island at 8371 SE 57th St, and am a member of the Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation.I fully support Amendment 8, Private Community Facilities, to the Comprehensive Plan as it would allow and encourage HNT to work with the SJCC and FASPS to responsibly address our shared growth challenges (traffic, efficient use of land, etc.) in ways that would speak to the concerns of their neighbors and, more broadly, encourage smart growth on Mercer Island moving forward.

Wayne Alan about 1 year ago

Dear Planning Commission & City Council members,I have lived on Mercer Island since 1995 and have watched Mercer Island grow in a sustainable way for the overall benefit of all our MI residents. In my opinion, Mercer Island governance has done a very good job in supporting growth, while keeping the growth in check for the benefit of all Mercer Island residents, which is why I felt that is important to write to request your support of Comprehensive Plan Amendment 8. I believe this Amendment will allow for wiser, more comprehensive design and development, helping the Stroum Jewish Community Center engage the community in its redesign and prioritize concerns related to traffic management, lighting, and landscape design to enhance the neighborhood. The SJCC is a long-standing community asset on Mercer Island and always works to serve the community’s best interest.

Bryce Taylor about 1 year ago

Hi, I hope to read this on the 29th, but if not...Commissioners,Thank you all for your engagement. Special thanks to the chair, Mr. Hubbell who has spent hours and hours addressing concerns of the neighborhood. The Mercer Island Reporter quoted Mr. Hubbell as saying that the interest of the neighbors and of the commission are “aligned”. He has shown tremendous consideration and should be commended. Continuing with that same Reporter article, Mr. Hubbell said that there are three questions within this issue.Question #1: Should these sorts of uses be allowed on the Island? Question #2: Where should they be located? Question #3: Should they be regulated differently than they currently are in residential areas?I ask the commission to consider my neighbors answers to these questions. My answers can only be informed by the applicants site drawings shown above. It is difficult to engage in this issue when I both see this drawing, but then hear the city say, “This drawing is not the final product.” Question #1: Should these sorts of uses be allowed on the Island? Of course, private facilities such as the applicants should be allowed on the Island—we are a better community with them. I think the more applicable question is, “To what extent should these sorts of uses be allowed on the Island?” My answer: When it is reasonable to assume that the positives for Islanders will outweigh the negatives. The drawing on this website show the following net negatives for neighbors and the entire Island: life safety issues, mobility issues, over-commercialization of neighborhoods, noise pollution that can’t be mitigated, light pollution that can’t be mitigated, unsightly security fencing, and unintended consequences that always arise. Question #2: Where should they be located? In their current footprint or within a reasonable expansion. Many private community facilities have improved their services with renovated buildings under the current rules. Could the applicants not do the same? Has the Commission asked the applicants if they could achieve their goals with a more reasonable expansion? If private community facilities seek a larger footprint or a greater commercial presence on the Island or in the region, they should expand towards commercial areas, not residential. The applicants reside near commercial properties. Question #3: Should they be regulated differently than they currently are in residential areas? The neighbors, and I think the Island, would, of course, be in favor of looking at the current specific rules that govern these facilities and try to understand which ones make sense and which ones do not. I would expect this process would come with a lot of compromises and concessions by both parties. I know the neighbors would not all be completely happy, but we would be happier than the current process. If any commissioner (or councilor) is concerned about passing the amendment without knowing exactly how these new facilities will be governed, I ask you to trust your instincts. I would like to end with posing three questions for the Commission taken from Mr. Hubbell’s three questions. Question #1: Do you support land uses such as the ones in the drawing on the Let’s Talk Mercer Island website? Question #2: Do the desires of the applicants, as seen by the drawing, fit with the current locations of the properties? Question #3: Do you believe that changing the zone designation and regulations of these properties to look like the above drawing will be see (in 10 years) as a visionary change in policy that benefited all Islanders?Please consider any "no" as a sound reason to vote against the amendment, and try again at helping the applicants and the neighbors achieve their desired goals in a different way. Thank you.

Ryan about 1 year ago

​To Whom it May Concern;​I am a neighbor along SE 40th Street directly adjacent to the potential new parking lot of this new ​Private ​Community Facility ​Zone ​should it pass. I understand there will be​ a chance for​ design plan input etc. ​but I ask that you strongly consider the impact your vote has on the future development of this Island. This is a monumental decision as it will give power to all clubs, churches etc. on the island to move into residential areas in the future. The homes that the French American School and JCC have purchased under private sale the past few years should absolutely NOT be allowed to rezone from residential. The reason we have set zones in place is to protect our residential communities and tax paying residents. Please do not approve this new zone and allow a historic neighborhood to be decimated, ​a​ removal of a very important green belt protecting our entire neighborhood from buildings and flood lights, add 3 times more traffic in an already very dangerous and congested area of the island. It is already impossible to get home or to the freeway during pick-up and drop-off times with the current school sizes. ​The impact on SE 40th street is already prevalent as all the employees and buses drive down our street and park on the back side of their property now. ​The JCC is a wonderful place and has plenty of land in their current footprint to complete their update/redesign and improve their facilities while maintaining a realistic size for our small Island. May I ask what you plan to do for the surrounding neighbors should this pass? Will our property taxes be lowered as we are now adjacent to a HUGE commercial property with abundant activity, traffic, noise, lighting etc. Will we be allowed to put our own tall fences in to block the buildings? What will happen with all the trees that soften the space between the JCC and our neighborhood? How will you possibly attempt to make our neighborhood safe when safety is already a major concern near the entrance to the JCC property as it is? How will you deal with the traffic with the extra loads of cars buzzing through the area and on and off the island which is the only way for our entire Northeastern end of the Island to access the freeway??I grew up here and decided to raise my family here and have seen a lot of change but was optimistic about recent changes in building codes passed to help protect our neighborhoods. This potential new zone goes against everything you just voted to approve and change for the better because this will NOT protect our tax paying residential neighborhoods now or in the future!​ ​Please do not change the landscape of the Island forever by passing this new zone intended for a vast majority NON-RESIDENTS and not protecting the Island residents you are supposed to fight for.Thank you,

MIAlumna about 1 year ago

Private Community Facility ZoneThe term is an OXYMORON!!! That is unless you are defining “Community” as “Greater Seattle” in the case of the Stroum Jewish Community Center of Greater Seattle...or.. The even broader reach of the French American School of the Puget Sound. It is my understanding that the first responsibility ofThe Planning Commission and City Council is to look out for the interests of the MERCER ISLAND COMMUNITYAll of the organizations requesting the re Zone have been on Mercer Island for decades and in the case of the “J” have been turned down numerous times on zoning issues. They both admit that the growth they are projecting will come primarily from “Communities other than Mercer Island”. It’s my understanding that less than 20% of the school population of the FASP are Mercer Island residents.Why is creating this new zone good for Mercer Island. More traffic, more congestion, more noise, oh and did I forget less single family housing. The new zone will actually reduce the property tax the City collects now. There is a reason that no one can find a “Private Community Facility Zone”anywhere in the USA. It doesn’t make sense and if the Planning Commision and City Council go forward with this proposal they will be battling with “The Mercer Island Community” for many years to come.How can you ask the Mercer Island Community to give an informed opinion on the PCF zone when you can’t define it? Can not clearly state why it benefits Mercer Island residents? Tell us that the plans the applicants have presented time and again by the planning commision should not concern us because they don’t matter until you draft the regulations…..which we can’t discuss until we have an PCF zone that we can’t define. ----Private: “belonging to or for the use of one particular person or group of people only”----Community: “a group of people living in the same place - or - having a particular characteristic in common”

Matt Goldbach about 1 year ago

Dear Councilman Bassett--I have lived on Mercer Island since 1990 and have seen it grow and change a lot, even in this short a time. Today I write you in support of the proposed zoning changes for the "JCC et al Corridor." I have been an educator there for over 24 years, working with young children in the Early Childhood School. But I have also been a member there, sent my children there for early education, arts, recreation, and camp. I work out there and will continue to support the organization when I retire. It is an aging facility that struggles to meet the needs of its members, and the plan to revise the campus is a long time coming. The community needs the facilities that have come together in this proposition.I have faith that the City Council can navigate the planning complexities and manage the community's concerns and allow for the changes required by this proposalI strongly encourage you to support the new designation.Regards,LSelby16 Evergreen Lane, Mercer Island206-232-8785

LSelby about 1 year ago