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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Council Roundup: Hearings on light rail, medical marijuana

Also volunteers honored, and land-use code change

The City Council heard from 26 members of the public Monday about their preferences for cost savings options for the East Link light rail project.

The public hearing was part of an extensive outreach effort over the past 16 months. Last week the council reviewed cost savings recommendations from a steering committee composed of staff from Bellevue and Sound Transit, the regional agency that builds and operates light rail. On April 3 the two organizations co-hosted a cost-savings open house at City Hall.

Bellevue has been working collaboratively with Sound Transit under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) since early last year on ways to lower project costs in order to reduce the city's contingent $60 million funding contribution for a downtown tunnel.

The public hearing provided another opportunity for the public to express preferences on the light rail routing (further comments can be sent to council via email (council@bellevuewa.gov), and specifically the following cost saving choices:

  • Bellevue Way: Retained cut (trench) on east side of Bellevue Way (MOU option), or, light rail at-grade and shift Bellevue Way west with a high-occupancy vehicle lane.
  • 112th Avenue Southeast: Light rail in a retained cut under Southeast Fourth Street; or light rail at-grade on the west side of 112th Avenue Southeast with limited right-turn access to Southeast Fourth Street; or light rail at-grade on the west side of 112th Avenue Southeast, with Southeast Fourth Street as emergency access only.
  • Downtown station: A below-grade tunnel station on 110th Avenue Northeast (with "optimized" changes from the MOU version) or a downtown station above-grade parallel to Northeast Sixth Street.

Most of the speakers during the Monday public hearing were residents of the Surrey Downs or Enatai neighborhoods, both of which are located along the light rail route, south of downtown. Generally, those speakers supported the retained-cut option along parts of Bellevue Way and 112th Avenue Southeast. Concerns such as noise, safety, loss of trees and property acquisitions were cited as reasons for a preference.

Some people also addressed the downtown station option, and those preferences were split between putting the station in a downtown tunnel and locating it above ground.

The council is expected to decide which cost savings options to endorse at its April 22 meeting, taking into consideration the best interests of the neighborhoods, the most efficient alignment and the best use of public resources. The Sound Transit Board will make a final selection at its meeting on April 25.

More information is available with the council agenda material; video of the hearing also is available.

Marijuana collective gardens
The council also held a public hearing to gather public testimony on whether to extend interim city zoning regulations for medical cannabis (marijuana) collective gardens. This is the third public hearing within the last year on this topic. While Bellevue has not received any permit applications for collective gardens at this time, the city allows them in four land-use districts. The city currently prohibits the operations of any medical marijuana dispensaries.

Following four comments from members of the public, including two from the company Greenside Medical, the council adopted Ordinance 6109 on a 6-0 vote. The ordinance can be accessed at the Resolutions and Ordinances page. In May city staff will present the topic to the Planning Commission, which will further study and consider the issue before making a recommendation on any permanent regulations.

Volunteers of the year honored
The council honored this year's community volunteers of the year, Jan King and Cathy Habib, both of Bellevue.

King was nominated by the Bellevue Presbyterian Church for her work with homeless women, schoolchildren and cancer patients in Bellevue; Habib was nominated by the Bellevue Schools Foundation for her efforts on behalf of the foundation and Eastside Pathways.

This year the theme for National Volunteer Week (April 21-27) is: "Volunteers cast a beautiful shadow." The Community Volunteer of the Year Award is designed to recognize people who have not only made a significant contribution to the community, but have also gone above and beyond the call of duty, shown leadership, innovation, creativity, collaboration and partnering. 

Thousands of volunteers diligently and passionately provide service to the Bellevue community every day. In 2012, 6,355 people volunteered in 56 distinct programs for 12 city departments. These volunteers served a total of 144,091 hours, with an estimated value of over $3 million for city programs alone. Even more volunteers serve hundreds of organizations that serve Bellevue residents.

More information about volunteering opportunities in Bellevue is available at Volunteering.

Feedback: Shelly Shellabarger, Volunteer Program Coordinator, 425-452-5375 or Volunteer@BellevueWa.gov

Code change allows auto dealership to move
On a 5-1 vote, the council amended the city's land use code (Ordinance 6108) to allow the relocation and expansion of an auto dealership from the Wilburton area to an Eastgate location near Interstate 90. By adopting the amendment, council found that the change is consistent with the city's Comprehensive Plan; enhances the public health, safety and welfare; and is not contrary to the best interest of citizens and property owners in Bellevue.

Under current city code, Office/Limited Business (OLB) uses are allowed only in parts of the Wilburton and Factoria areas. The council's action expands the OLB uses to a small area in Eastgate. The change takes effect April 23.

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Contact Information

450 110th Ave. NE
P.O. Box 90012
Bellevue, WA 98009
Contact: Lenka Wright, Chief Communications Officer
Phone: 425-452-4090
E-mail: lwright@bellevuewa.gov

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