City manager advises more time for Houghton/Everest business district plan

Kirkland City Manager Kurt Triplett recently reached out to the Houghton and Everest communities to let them know he’s heard their development concerns and will try to help.

“In response to the concerns expressed by residents of the Everest and Central Houghton neighborhoods, I agree that the process and timing of the Houghton/Everest Business District should be reconsidered,” Triplett said in a public email. The Planning Commission and Council also agreed.

Houghton and Everest residents were recently notified of proposed Comprehensive Plan updates that would allow for building heights to extend to five stories west of 108th Avenue N.E. and four stories east of 108th Avenue N.E. in the Houghton/Everest Neighborhood Center.

In July, the Kirkland City Council directed the Planning Commission to include the Neighborhood Center in the 2012 Work Program, which only gave the Everest Neighborhood Association a few months to be notified, create a plan for themselves and gain insight from their community.

“There is no way that this can be done in that short of a time frame. We are asking for one year to try to get all the information we need,” said Everest Neighborhood Association member Anna Rising last week.

The changes for the Everest Neighborhood Plan were to reflect similar updates in the Central Houghton Neighborhood Plan. The Houghton Community Council and the Planning Commission have put about two years into the Central Houghton Neighborhood Plan updates. The Everest Neighborhood Plan has not been updated in more than 20 years.

Triplett said staff directed the Planning Commission to reexamine the timing of the changes in a meeting on Sept. 27. The Planning Commission deemed the area be included in the city’s 10 year Comprehensive Plan update.

He personally recommended the City Council also reconsiders the timing of the project on Tuesday.

“It was my understanding that all parties were on board, but it turns out that wasn’t the case,” said Mayor Joan McBride and former member of the Houghton Community Council. “I think we need to back away and give this process more time.”

On Oct. 2 the council agreed with Triplett and McBride to delay the planning process. The Work Program will be formally amended at the Oct. 16 council meeting.

Triplett said his staff will develop a new timeline and approach the project and discussions at a much slower pace but with more education and involvement on the matter. However, he does note the Comprehensive Plan will need to be updated in two years, according to state law.

“One option may be to evaluate the Houghton/Everest Business District as part of that update in 2013-14.” Triplett said. “Another option would be to complete the Comprehensive Plan update prior to preparing a more detailed plan for the district.”

It is uncertain whether the  community meeting for Oct. 9 will take place but residents are encouraged to go to www.kirklandwa.gov/neighborhoodcenter and sign up for email updates.