The City Council late Monday night unanimously approved changes to the city's land use code that will govern permitting processes, development standards and design guidelines related to the future East Link light rail project.
"Tonight's council action marks an important milestone in the work the city has undertaken with Sound Transit to bring regional light rail to Bellevue," said Mayor Conrad Lee. "I want to thank our engaged residents and dedicated staff for their patience and hard work during this deliberate and, at times, tough process. In the end we were able to tackle some challenging issues while balancing protection of our neighborhoods with the implementation of this regional project."
Council approval is the culmination of an amendment process that started last fall and resulted in 10 public meetings, two public hearings and thousands of public comments.
The amendments are part of a comprehensive new chapter of the land use code -- a land use code "overlay." The changes are intended to fill in gaps in the current land use code, which did not anticipate a light rail line. Among the council's objectives for the land use code changes were to:
- Provide certainty and predictability for the city, Sound Transit and the public regarding code requirements and processes;
- Establish a comprehensive and consolidated permit process for the light rail system and facilities;
- Provide regulatory oversight for the light rail line located in public rights of way;
- Ensure the light rail system is consistent with the city's comprehensive plan, subarea plans and the Light Rail Best Practices report; and
- Ensure that construction and operation of the light rail system complies with city codes, including noise control and environmental procedures.
The amendments also call for a citizen advisory committee to review permits, setbacks, structure separation and landscape development requirements to ensure a context-sensitive design.
Bellevue has been working with Sound Transit on cost savings options for the $2.8 billion East Link project, which will run from Seattle, through Bellevue, to the Overlake Transit Center in Redmond. Construction is expected to start in 2015 and service is scheduled to begin in 2023.
Additional information from Monday's council meeting is available in the council memo. Additional information about the code amendments, including the final version of the amendments, will be posted when it's available at Land Use Code Amendment.
STAFF CONTACTS: Carol Helland, Land Use Division Director, 425-452-2724 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Mary Kate Berens, Deputy City Attorney, 425-452-4616 or email@example.com.
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