Monday, September 29, 2014

Zoning Commission approves McMillan Sand Filtration site First Stage PUD - work still to be done, but VMP is allowed to move to the Second Stage

From Washington Business Journal reporter Michael Neibauer:

McMillan First Stage PUD approved 4-0-1 by the Zoning Commission.
8:03 PM - 29 Sep 2014
Still work to be done, especially with regard to transportation, but Commission is allowing McMillan to move to the 2nd stage.
8:06 PM - 29 Sep 2014

Imagine an appeal probably coming, once McMillan opponents have the commission's order in hand. Or maybe before. Can they file one tonight?
8:08 PM - 29 Sep 2014


Unknown said...

I was surprised to hear no discussion on the height and density concerns raised in the ncpc letter.

Alex Dancingmantis said...

I thought NCPC signed off after the most recent revisions to the plan clearing line of sight from the OSH?

Unknown said...

Thanks, Scott, and all who live tweeted. Sorry I missed it.

If anybody else wants to see the video from last night...

Unknown said...


You are correct that much of NCPC staff comments (exhibit 850) focused on views and viewsheds from the Armed Forces Retirement Home. With respect to those views and viewsheds, it seems that a resolution was reached between NCPC and VMP/DMPED.

However, in addition to the views and viewsheds discussion, the letter from NCPC also raised concerns regarding the plan's adherence to land use categories for the site (see pages 3 and 4 of the letter) as reflected in the Comprehensive Plan. In particular, it states:

"The adopted 2007 Comprehensive Plan Future Land Use Map classifies the McMillan site as Mixed Use, consisting of three land use categories: Medium-density Residential; Moderate Density Commercial; and Parks, Recreation, and Open Space. ... Under current Zoning regulations, medium density residential typically includes R-5-B and R-5-C zone districts, which allow building heights up to 60 feet. ... The Future Land Use map describes the Moderate-density Commercial ... as .... uses with buildings generally not exceeding five stories in height. ... However, the C-3-C zoning requested as part of the McMillan development is typically considered to be a high-density commercial zone. ... The requested CR zoning is similar to the C-3-C zone in terms of building height and allowable density."

The letter then concludes: "In addition, the high-density development proposed for the site appears to be inconsistent with Comprehensive Plan policies specific to the McMillan site, and the land use designations shown on the Future Land Use map. Therefore, NCPC staff recommends that the Zoning Commission request the applicant to submit a development scheme that ... is more consistent with the Comprehensive Plan land use categories currently assigned to the site."

Unknown said...

To that end, I was surprised that the Zoning Commission did not at least discuss this NCPC concern that the plan may be inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan. Instead, their discussions focused squarely on the views and viewsheds issue.

This goes back to a general concern I had in the last Zoning hearing when the issue of height and density was raised. VMP put forth the argument that the medical office building must be zoned C-3-C in order to accommodate higher ceilings needed for a medical facility. As a trade-off for that added height, they pointed to the relatively low density of the building (FAR). I have a few concerns with this argument and in particular with the Commissioners' discussion that ensued:

1) this does not address why VMP is requesting a CR zoning variance for the remainder of the site, which is also out of balance with the land use map;

2) it's unclear why this particular complex needs the height variance whereas other medical facilities in residential neighborhoods have not required this; and,

3) in response to this argument, the Zoning Commission requested that VMP simply drop from the height from 130 feet to 115 feet. This particular request, in my mind, is completely arbitrary. It does not bring the building into height compliance with other moderate density zones nor address the larger Comprehensive Plan compliance issue. Instead, it strikes me as a vain attempt to skirt the matter without actually addressing it. If this case is appealed, I would personally think this is the strongest argument against the zoning decision and deliberative process.

Anyway, my apologies for the rambling response. At the end of the day this is an unprecedented zoning variance request (no C-3-C or CR variance request has been brought to or approved by the Commission with the underlying and surrounding zoning districts like this one other than the Waterfront).

Mathew Bader
BCA MAG Representative