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Public Works Variance request of Elizabeth Li & Csaba Horvath and Kurt Baumgarten & Emily Jones re Lots 5 - 8 in the 2900 Block of Lafayette Street


Hearing Examiner #: HE-13-PW-005
Planning #:VAR2013-00003
Incident #:
Filing Date:02/01/2013
City Contact:Brent Baldwin
Hearing Date: 02/20/2013
Description: Public Works Variance request of Elizabeth Li & Csaba Horvath and Kurt Baumgarten & Emily Jones re Lots 5 - 8 in the 2900 Block of Lafayette Street
Decision Date: 03/04/2013
Decision Summary:Approved with conditions.

This matter came before the Bellingham Hearing Examiner for hearing on the 20th day of February 2013 on the application of Elizabeth Li, Csaba Horvath, Kurt Baumgarten, and Emily Jones for a variance from street construction requirements to construct residences in the 2900 block of Lafayette Street on property owned by Garden Gate Development LLC.
Testimony was received from Brent Baldwin, Bellingham Public Works Department; Kurt Baumgarten, Applicant; and Chris Webb, Applicants' Engineer.
In addition to the Bellingham Municipal Code and Comprehensive Plan, the following documents were considered as part of the record: Variance Request, Public Works Memorandum dated 2/14/13, Parks Memorandum dated 2/15/13, Large Aerial Photograph, E-mail thread with Photographs dated 10/24/12 and 10/25/12; and Record from HE-06-PL-005.
I. FINDINGS OF FACT
1. Applicants Elizabeth Li, Csaba Horvath, Kurt Baumgarten, and Emily Jones applied for a variance from street construction requirements of the Bellingham Municipal Code in order to construct two residences on property owned by Garden Gate Development LLC in the 2900 block of Lafayette Street.
2. The property consists of four lots on Lafayette Street between W. Illinois and W. Indiana Streets.
3. A variance was previously granted from the requirement to construct Lafayette Street abutting the property in HE-06-PL-005. This variance has expired. The record and Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law from that case are incorporated herein, to the extent they are not inconsistent with the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law contained herein.
4. The Applicants propose to construct two single-family residences on the property. The previous variance was granted for the construction of four residences. Each of the proposed residences will be situated on two lots.
5. BMC 13.08.030 requires improvement of an abutting street to minimum standard in order to obtain a building permit for construction of a residence. Variances from street construction requirements may be obtained upon satisfaction of the variance criteria of BMC 13.08.050.
6. The Applicants propose to access the property from the alley between Lafayette and Madrona Streets, and between W. Indiana and W. Illinois Streets. They propose to construct a 16-foot wide asphalt paved roadway for approximately 250 linear feet from W. Indiana Street and a 12-foot wide gravel alley approximately 180 linear feet from the southern boundary of the property to W. Illinois Street. They also propose to construct a trail within the Lafayette Street right-of-way from the intersection of W. Indiana and Lafayette Streets to the far edge of the property.
7. Lafayette Street is a greenbelt. Trail improvements within the right-of-way are included in the Squalicum Creek Park Master Plan. An informal trail currently exists within the right-of-way between W. Indiana and W. Illinois Streets.
8. Other residences in the adjoining blocks of Lafayette Street obtain access from the alley.
9. Communication between the Applicants and the Parks Department in October 2012 indicated that the Department would request construction of a trail from the north to the southern edge of the property. The Department now requests that the trail be constructed from W. Indiana Street to W. Illinois Street.
10. The Public Works and Parks and Recreation Departments support the proposed variance. No additional public comment was received. The Applicants indicate that neighboring property owners support the application.
11. Construction of Lafayette Street in this location would be detrimental to the public interest. The property can be adequately accessed from the alley. Granting the variance will not be detrimental to other properties. The location of Lafayette Street adjacent to the park and bluff, and the use of the right-of-way for pedestrian access make construction of the street undesirable. Street construction would be inconsistent with the designated function of the right-of-way.
II. CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
1. The application satisfies the variance criteria.
2. Trail construction as proposed is proportional to the proposed development and requested variance. Additional trail construction can be requested at the time of future development.
3. A variance from street construction requirements should be granted subject to the conditions set forth below.
III. ORDER
A variance is granted from the requirement to construct Lafayette Street in order to obtain building permits for no more than two residences on the subject property, together with associated accessory uses and buildings, subject to the following conditions:
1. The alley between W. Indiana and W. Illinois Streets shall be constructed in accordance with a plan and Public Facilities Construction Agreement approved by the Public Works Department. The portion of the alley from W. Indiana Street to the far edge of the property shall be at least 16 feet of asphalt or other impervious surface pavement and the portion beyond the far edge of the property to W. Illinois Street shall be at least 12 feet of gravel surfacing. Surfacing materials and construction specifications shall be as determined by the Public Works and Fire Departments.
2. A public trail shall be constructed within the Lafayette Street right-of-way in accordance with plans and specifications approved by the Parks and Recreation Department between the end of existing trail at W. Indiana Street and the far edge of the property. The Parks and Recreation Department may accept a financial contribution towards the development of a trail within the Lafayette Street right-of-way in lieu of trail construction as deemed appropriate by the Department.
3. No parking or vehicular access shall be located in the Lafayette Street right-of-way or on the subject property between the main residential structures and Lafayette Street.
4. Design and location of alley improvements shall minimize, to the extent feasible, impacts on other properties abutting the alley.
5. The development shall comply with all other provisions of the Bellingham Municipal Code, or variances obtained. All conditions of approval shall be satisfied prior to occupancy of the dwelling units.
6. This variance shall expire five years after this date unless a building permit for the proposal has been issued and maintained in effect.

ENTERED this 4th day of March 2013.
Bellingham Hearing Examiner
________________________________
Dawn Sturwold
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