The Bellevue City Council Monday unanimously approved code amendments aimed at protecting neighborhood character and livability from some of the impacts of new home construction and large-scale remodels.
On Nov. 26, the Council received the Planning Commission's unanimous recommendation to enact regulatory changes that address public concerns about the loss of trees, greenscape, light and privacy often associated with the construction of large, new homes, labeled by critics "megahouses." The amendments would also limit dirt and noise from construction.
If adopted Monday, the code changes will take effect Dec. 12 throughout Bellevue, with the exception of the East Bellevue Community Council area. Implementation within those boundaries is contingent upon Community Council action, scheduled for Jan. 2, 6:30 p.m., in the Lake Hills Clubhouse.
"The City Council is gratified that the Planning Commission worked so hard to bring these changes to us so quickly after we heard concerns from residents," Mayor Grant Degginger said. "While the city definitely wants to encourage investment in neighborhoods, we also want to make sure redevelopment is done responsibly."
Neighborhood character code amendments, based on extensive public discussion and research over the past several months, are being considered in two phases. The phase one amendments, up for adoption Monday, would:
- Require 50 percent greenscape in the front yard setbacks of new single-family homes;
- Require retention of 30 percent of significant trees when single-family homes are redeveloped or when expansion of homes exceeds 20 percent in square footage over the previously existing structures;
- Change the way height is measured (from finished to existing grade – to discourage unnecessary lot build-up) and eliminate the height exemption for rooftop mechanical equipment in single family zones;
- Prohibit portable carports and storage structures in locations visible from public streets and rights of way;
- Declare unscreened construction debris a public nuisance;
- Require lodging at construction sites to comply with temporary use regulations;
- Authorize construction notification signs in single-family zones.
Phase two amendments -- generally more complex and potentially more controversial than the phase one changes -- will be scheduled for Planning Commission discussion in early 2008. Those proposed changes will include:
- A more comprehensive look at tree preservation in single-family neighborhoods;
- A proposed prohibition against combining lots to create very large single-family lots;
- Proposed development standards for new homes exceeding a certain size threshold;
- Requirements for clean-up of abandoned building sites.
Substantial opportunity for public comment will be afforded during phase two discussions. For more information, residents can contact Neighborhood Outreach at 425-452-6836.
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