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Rezone Request Along Finn Hill's Juanita Drive Focus of Thursday Hearing

The owner of the 1.81-acre property wants to eliminate a ground-floor retail requirement and develop it as multifamily residential units. The Finn Hill Alliance has asked for action to be deferred until a neighborhood plan can be developed.

 

A request for a zoning change to allow residential development only by the owner of properties along Juanita Drive at its intersection with Holmes Point Drive and NE 122nd Place on Finn Hill will be the subject of a public hearing Thursday evening at Kirkland City Hall.

The owner, Jeff Howard, wants to rezone one property that is in a neighborhood business category so he can develop it and an adjacent parcel as multi-family housing without ground-floor retail use. He argues that the unusual shape of the intersection and location make ingress/egress difficult and thus the two parcels, totalling 1.81 acres, unsuitable for retail use.

“He is asking to change the parcel that is now zoned commercial so he can develop the entire property for residential,’” said Eric Shields, city planning director, who agrees that due to the shape of the intersection retail access is difficult.

The request, which would not allow higher housing density than is currently allowed, is causing some concern among Finn Hill residents. The Finn Hill Neighborhood Alliance board has sent the Kirkland Planning Commission a letter (attached here as a PDF file) asking that action on the request be deferred. The board feels the city first needs to develop a neighborhood plan that gathers public input and examines appropriate uses there before taking action.

The area was annexed by the City of Kirkland in 2011, and no neighborhood plan has yet been developed as in most other city neighborhoods. The properties are just north of Kirkland's Fire Station 25 and are currently vacant.

Howard has also sent the commission a petition signed by residents of a townhouse directly north of the properties, as well as business owner across the street on the east side side of Juanita Drive, requesting only residential development on the properties.

The Planning Commission will take public testimony on the request during its meeting beginning at 7 p.m. in the city council chambers, and is scheduled to vote on the request afterward. It’s recommendation will be sent to the City Council, which is expected to act on the rezone in December.

For a Planning Department analysis of the request, see the second attached PDF file.

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