Courtesy of Seattle DPD
Changing the highligted section of the map from Single-Family Zone to Low-rise Zone as part of the Greenwood Town Center rezone has some neighbors concerned about increased taxes, traffic and building heights.

Greenwood rezone process gets underway

A plan submitted by community members to rezone Greenwood's Town Center would allow for a more pedestrian-friendly commercial core, but it could also bring greater development into single-family neighborhoods.

The rezone proposal, which was developed by the Greater Greenwood Design & Development Group, would affect the area between the west side of Third Avenue Northwest, the north side of Northwest 87th Street, Palatine Avenue North and south side of Northwest 85th Street.

Subarea 1 of the proposed rezone, the site of the current Fred Meyer and future Fred Meyer redevelopment, would be changed from a mix of Low-rise, Commercial and Neighborhood Commercial zones into Neighborhood Commercial with a 65-foot height limit.

According to the Greater Greenwood Design & Development Group, the rezone of Subarea 1 could make the area more pedestrian friendly, add housing and promote small businesses. But, it could also increase traffic and demands on parking, reduce neighborhood affordability and change the neighborhood's character.

Subarea 2, the north side of Northwest 87th Street between Palatine Avenue North and Third Avenue Northwest as well as the west side of Third Avenue between 87th Street and Northwest 86th Street, is currently a Single-Family Zone. It would be rezoned to Low-rise, which allows development of multi-family housing.

The benefits to this rezone, according to Greater Greenwood, are increased density to support local businesses, a promotion of infrastructure on 87th Street and an added transition between commercial development and single-family housing. But, it could also increase property values, taxes and parking needs.

Subarea 3, the south side of Northwest 85th Street from Palatine Avenue North to Third Avenue Northwest as well as the east side of Third Avenue at 85th Street, would stay Neighborhood Commercial but have its height limit increased from 40 feet to 65 feet.

According to Greater Greenwood, this would encourage development on historically difficult sites, expand the retail core and promote pedestrian activity. The height increase could also have an adverse affect on neighbors to the south.

Andrea Petzel, senior urban planner for the Seattle Department of Planning and Development, said the proposed Greenwood rezone fits in with what the city is trying to do to manage future growth.

Greenwood resident Charles Shell said he likes the idea of redeveloping the Fred Meyer property, but he is concerned about the increased height limits in Subarea 2 and Subarea 3, which would put a barrier between single-family residences and the rest of the community.

Subarea 2 and Subarea 3 are meant as a buffer between the major commercial development of Subarea 1, but resident Bob Mirenzi said he would rather see the buffers included within the central commercial parcel instead of forced onto the surrounding neighborhood.

"Why should we be paying so the developer can maximize [to 65 feet] all the way to the edge of his property?" Mirenzi said. "It's not fair."

He said property taxes will go up in the rezoned areas, and in a non-wealthy area like Greenwood, a couple thousand dollars more in property taxes could force residents to sell their homes to developers.

Shell went to Gorditos on North 85th Street for dinner before the June 29 rezone open house. He said he is concerned the rezone would mean the loss of the funky little shops in that area.

"I'm not sure that's what we want Greenwood to look like," Shell said. "Redevelop Fred Meyer, but leave the rest of it alone."

Mirenzi said the entire rezone proposal is ignoring the environmental realities of the site. Development of the nearby Safeway caused collapses in nearby properties because of the unstable Greenwood peat bog, he said.

Low-rise Zones are not allowed in environmentally critical areas – which the peat bog is – according to the Seattle Municipal Code, Mirenzi said. Though, he said he is not sure if that is the most recent code.

Seattle City Councilmember Sally Clark attended the June 29 rezone open house. She said land-use issues, especially housing and zoning, are the most difficult issues to talk about between neighbors because they are so divisive.

Greenwood is an urban village and is going to see more growth when the economy recovers, Clark said. The city wants to make sure the map is right when that happens, she said.

The Department of Planning and Development will be collecting public feedback through July 15. Residents can submit their thoughts online here.

The Department of Planning and Development will present the public feedback to the Greenwood Community Council in August. If the department decides to recommend a rezone, the process will carry on into 2011.

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