City council discuses HENC incentives and other topics at first November meeting

Kirkland City Council met Nov. 8 and discussed several topics that may impact the community, including five-story incentives for the Houghton/Everest Neighborhood Center, an animal services ordinance regarding dangerous animals and a school playfield partnership program expansion.

Council discussed two items related to HENC. One discussion ended in a tie vote and council members decided to further discuss both topics at future meetings.

They first discussed a potential zoning method that would assure transportation projects along 6th Street are constructed prior to further HENC development. Council members decided to not include this in HENC amendments, but will discuss further how transportation projects relate to new development on a citywide level at their committee meetings and retreat early next year.

Council then discussed a five-story incentive that allows developers to build five stories only if they pay, at least partially, for a southbound right-turn lane on 6th Street in HENC.

Council member Toby Nixon could not attend the meeting so there was a tie vote of whether or not to proceed with the incentives.

“I think there’s ways where we can still tie it to development,” council member Jon Pascal said. “We’re doing that for Juanita High school, we’re working with them to have them help pay for (a) right-turn lane.”

Pascal, Dave Asher and Jay Arnold opposed the incentive in favor of maintaining the current zoning for three-story development and looking for other ways to tie the right-turn lane to development.

“I don’t know that it has to be tied directly as part of the zoning changes,” Pascal said. “I think we do have the guidelines and some of the standards already in place and it’s (negotiable). I like that flexibility. I think that flexibility is key for both the city and the developer to make sure we work out something that works for both.”

Council members Penny Sweet and Doreen Marchione and Mayor Amy Walen supported the incentive, with Walen saying that while she hears the community’s opposition to the increased traffic, she believes Kirkland should make room for the community during this affordability crisis.

“I go there at peak hour and it is very difficult, it’s crowded” Walen said about the traffic around HENC. “But I also know 48,500 people moved into King County last year…we need to be a welcoming city and what a welcoming city does is make room for people moving here, makes sure that elderly people can stay in their hometown and makes sure that kids have a place to live.”

The five-story incentive was also on council’s agenda at Tuesday’s meeting, after the Reporter’s print deadline.

Council later adopted an animal services ordinance for dangerous dogs and vicious animals, which is the fourth in a series of ordinances needed to implement the city’s animal services program on Jan. 1, 2018.

This particular ordinance regulates vicious and dangerous animals and allows animal control officers to enforce those regulations and issue violations for animal cruelty.

Additionally, council accepted most of the Kirkland Park Board’s recommendations to partner with Lake Washington School District (LWSD) to improve community playfields at Finn Hill Middle School and Peter Kirk Elementary School.

Council chose not to use $198,000 of levy funds for maintenance and reserved it for future capital projects instead, according to a press release.

The Peter Kirk improvements will be completed alongside the school’s reconstruction in 2019, while the Finn Hill improvements will begin in the summer of 2018. This playfield partnership program has benefited eight other LWSD schools.

Council also reviewed its mid-biennial budget, received an update on the city’s financial condition and reviewed the city manager’s recommendation for adjustments to the 2017-18 biennial budget.

The budget fully funds the new Juanita Beach bathhouse and pavilions and the upgrades for Edith Moulton Park improvements, including the dog park and park security through surveillance cameras and lighting. Council will vote on the mid-biennial budget at the Dec. 12 meeting.

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