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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Council Roundup: Park expansion in South Bellevue

Also, light rail permitting mapped out

A participant uses the South Bellevue Challenge Course.The City of Bellevue has acquired a 14-acre parcel next to the South Bellevue Community Center that makes it possible to expand a popular challenge course and add forest trails to Eastgate Park.

The City Council Monday authorized the $903,000 purchase, made possible with King County Levy proceeds ($451,500) and funding from King County Conservation Futures ($451,500). With the forested property immediately west of the community center, Eastgate Park will expand from 25 acres to 39.

The purchase provides several short- and long-term benefits, including:

  • Preservation of a large tract of wooded land;
  • Open space buffer for adjacent neighborhoods;
  • Key trail expansion and pedestrian access, avoiding busy Newport Way, to Eastgate Park; and
  • Possible expansion of the South Bellevue Challenge Course.

The proposed expansion of the Challenge Course includes possible zip line and aerial bridge elements. Community members are invited to learn more about Challenge Course expansion alternatives at a meeting Sept. 27, 7 to 8:30 p.m., at the South Bellevue Community Center. 

Council packet material

Feedback: Glenn Kost, Parks & Community Services Planning Manager, 425-452-5258 or gkost@bellevuewa.gov

Council OKs direction on light rail permitting process
The council approved a game plan to handle the complex permitting process needed for the East Link light rail project.

At issue is how to amend the city's land use code to provide a permitting track for a huge project that will cross several land-use districts and include six light rail stations in Bellevue. The existing city code was not drafted with light rail in mind, so clear requirements and standards are lacking.

Rather than make extensive changes throughout the city's 400-page land use code, the council opted for a light rail "overlay district" that would be added to the document. The strategy is designed to simplify the amendment process and make it easier for people to find light rail requirements in the code.

As part of Monday's discussion, councilmembers also signed off on a two-pronged permitting approach. One calls for the city to enter into a "development agreement" with Sound Transit, which would allow Bellevue to establish additional design standards and mitigation measures. The second permitting path, in case Bellevue and Sound Transit cannot strike a development agreement, involves issuing a conditional use permit.

Both paths would be included in the land use code, maintaining flexibility as future decisions are made by the council and the Sound Transit Board.

Currently Bellevue and Sound Transit are collaborating to identify project cost savings under the terms of a memorandum of understanding signed late last year; it includes city contributions toward the cost of a downtown tunnel.

The land use code amendments and permitting effort is proceeding now in order to establish clear standards and clarify the permit process, before the selection of a final light rail alignment in spring of 2013. Construction of East Link is projected to begin in 2015 and light rail service is expected to begin in 2023.

Next steps include a council study session on the draft land use code amendment, scheduled for Oct. 8, with a public hearing planned for Oct. 22. Additional study sessions could come in November and final action by the council on the land-use code changes is anticipated in December.  

For more information, see the council study session item.

Feedback: Carol Helland, Land Use Division Director, 425-452-2724 or chelland@bellevuewa.gov; or Mary Kate Berens, Deputy City Attorney, 425-452-4616 or mkberens@bellevuewa.gov


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