Has the application been deemed complete?

    Yes.  An application is complete once all required application documents are submitted; in this case a complete application was submitted on January 23, 2020. 

    A Letter of Completion was issued on January 27, 2020 – the same day that a Notice of Application was issued.  This started the formal 30-day public comment period, which runs through February 26, 2020. 

    Can anything be done to stop this development?

    The project is being reviewed for conformance with the City Code, including the Town Center Development and Design Standards.  Please note that the City is obligated to ensure that the project complies with the Town Center regulations, and permit applications that comply with applicable regulations will be approved.

    If you have concerns that the proposal doesn’t comply with the Town Center development regulations and/or design standards, please provide your written comments to City staff as soon as possible.  City staff will be reviewing the project thoroughly during the public comment period in order to prepare a first review letter to the applicant in late February/early March.  All public comments will be provided to the applicant, along with the City’s request for revisions and/or additional information to continue the review of the proposed development. 

    Who makes the final decision on the development?

    The applicant has applied for three land use approvals: 1) a Design Approval, 2) a SEPA determination, and 3) a transportation concurrency certificate.  The Design Commission makes the final decision on the Design Approval.  The Design Commission can establish conditions of approval that will affect the anticipated site development and building permits.  The SEPA determination and transportation concurrency certificate are issued by City staff. 

    How much retail is being proposed with the new development? How can we influence the amount of retail in this development?

    Currently, the applicant is proposing 10,742 square feet of ground level retail space. Staff will relay the community’s desire to provide additional retail and support the developer in exploring options for providing more retail space.  However, the Town Center regulations do not establish a specific amount of required retail space for this project.  The Town Center regulations (MICC 19.11) require that 40 percent (40%) of the ground floor street frontage to be occupied by one or more of the following permitted uses: retail, restaurant, and/or personal service.

    How is parking being calculated? Will there be adequate parking for the tenants and public frequenting the retail? Is the City losing retail parking as part of this new development?

    Parking requirements are calculated based on the use of the building, and parking studies provided by the applicant and peer reviewed by the City.  Underground or structured parking is required.  The City will require that the developer provide retail and public parking spaces for business use, designating separate residential tenant parking only. The public spaces will be identified and free for the public to use.  The City will evaluate the proposed parking during their review and may require additional parking and / or establish conditions on the residential, retail, and public parking programming.

    How much traffic will the new development generate? Will it cause additional delays on Town Center streets?

    A traffic analysis is required to be submitted by the applicant and reviewed by the City’s traffic engineer to evaluate any significant impacts and level of service around traffic flow and congestion on the City streets, particularly during morning and afternoon peak hours.

    What is a “SEPA” determination?

    SEPA is an acronym for the State Environmental Policy Act.  The purpose behind a SEPA review is to determine whether the City’s action, by approving a particular project, will result in a probable significant environmental impact that is otherwise unaddressed by the City’s adopted regulations.  A SEPA review results in one of three outcomes: 1) a Determination of Non- Significance (DNS), 2) a Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance (MDNS), or 3) a Determination of Significance (DS). 

    A DNS is the most common result; the DS is the least common result.  A DNS indicates that any expected impacts resulting from a decision to approve a project, are sufficiently addressed by the City’s adopted regulations.  A MDNS indicates that the City has established additional conditions on the project approval, to avoid a probable significant impact.  A DS results in the requirement to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to fully evaluate the projects impacts and to identify any necessary mitigation.

    What is a transportation concurrency certificate?

    A transportation concurrency certificate is a document that confirms that the City can provide its adopted level of service for transportation for a proposed development.  The level of service for transportation is established in the Transportation Element of the City’s Comprehensive Plan at specific street intersections.  For a project in Town Center, the City will review the number of vehicle trips generated by the project and the remaining capacity at the affected street intersections. If there is sufficient capacity, the City will issue the certificate and the project may move forward towards construction; if there is insufficient capacity the project will: A) be modified to generate fewer trips, B) pay to upgrade the failing intersection(s), or C) be denied.

    What about impacts to traffic, schools and parks?

    The City uses impact fees from new development to offset the development’s impact on important city facilities including streets, parks and schools.  The fees are used to improve and expand infrastructure to meet the demands placed on it by the new development. 

    Transportation Impact fees are imposed on new development to help pay for improvements to transportation facilities, such as public streets and roads and to ensure an adequate level of service.  Based on the current design, staff estimates the transportation impact fee will be approximately $420,000 for 164 dwelling units. 

    Park Impact fees are collected to help pay for improvements to parks and recreation facilities.  Based on the current design, staff estimates the park impact fee will be approximately $250,000 for 164 dwelling units. 

    School Impact fees are established by the Mercer Island School District to offset impacts from new development on school services.  There is currently no school impact fee collected for multi-family dwelling units.

    How soon could this project start construction?

    The applicant has not indicated current timelines for construction; however, when the building permit is approved, project construction could start later in 2021.