After more than two hours of discussion last week, the Woodinville City Council still wasn’t ready to change the regulations on development agreements, an issue that affects Woodin Creek Village downtown and Woodinville Village in the Hollywood District.
The council was considering Ordinance 601, which would have eliminated the 10-year limit on development agreements.
“The purpose [of development agreements] is really to provide certainty for development and redevelopment of large-scale or multi-phased projects that take years to complete, require substantial financial commitments at an early stage and/or involve significant mitigation and infrastructure improvements,” City Manager Richard Leahy said.
The agreements vest the project to the development regulations in effect at the time. Leahy recommended removing the 10-year time limit and allowing development agreements to be amended.
The ordinance could affect the two current development agreements, which are the only two in the city’s history: Woodinville Village and Woodin Creek Village.
The agreement with Woodinville Village expires in 2016, and if it expires, the size of the development could increase by about 50 percent, the maximum building height would be slightly lower and the hotel could have more units per acre. The differences are due to changes in Woodinville’s municipal code since 2006, when the development agreement was made.
Woodin Creek Village’s development agreement expires in 2023. If it expired, the maximum building height would be lower, fewer dwelling units would be allowed per acre and the grocery store could be larger.
Some council members wanted to approve the ordinance to give developers and the city as much flexibility as possible, while others were cautious of binding the city to agreements lasting longer than 10 years.
“For the size developments we do in Woodinville, 20-, 40-acre developments, which are big,” Councilmember Hank Stecker said, “...I don’t see any reason to lift what is not an unreasonable limitation of 10 years.”
Councilmember Les Rubstello said that with only two development agreements in the city’s history, one of which has run out of time and one of which is behind schedule, experience shows that development agreements longer than 10 years are needed.
“I don’t see any downside to this proposal,” Rubstello said. “The main thing is, if we do this, we keep the power. Nobody would force us to extend. Nobody would force us into any particular time frame. It’s up to us to negotiate that, and that’s actually a good thing, because it gives us something we can negotiate.”
Woodinville business leaders strongly supported allowing development agreements of longer than 10 years. Dave Witt, executive director of the Woodinville Chamber of Commerce; Jeff Calvert, representing Legacy Companies and Woodinville Village; Sandra Lee, executive director of the Woodinville Wine Country association; and Mike Stevens, managing partner of Brian Carter Cellars all spoke in favor of Ordinance 601.
These projects that we’re discussing are very complex. It takes a long time to complete something like this,” Witt said. “And knowing at the front end of the project the terms that you’re going to be working with is important to both parties.”
Councilmember Liz Aspen said, “If we don’t allow this, I think that we are saying no to people who want to invest in our city. And I still hear it, over and over and over, from people that say, ‘We want to stay away from Woodinville, because they’re so hard to work with.’ I don’t want to be that city that no one wants to invest in.”
With a 3-3-1 vote, Ordinance 601 didn’t pass. (Councilmembers Waters, Rubstello and Aspen voted yes, Mayor Talmas and Councilmembers Stecker and Boundy-Sanders voted no and Deputy Mayor Evans abstained.)
Instead, the city will work on other possible ordinances based on the council’s feedback, to be reviewed at the March 17 meeting. Deputy Mayor James Evans suggested a maximum term of 10 years with the ability to extend in increments up to 10 years, while Stecker suggested allowing agreements shorter than 10 years to be extended up to a total of 10 years.
Woodinville Farmers Market wants to move to DeYoung Park
At the start of the council meeting, vendors at the Woodinville Farmers Market and members of Woodinville’s Parks and Recreation Commission asked the council to allow the farmers market to move to DeYoung Park this summer, rather than its current location on 133rd Avenue NE.
“In the last six seasons, our farmers market’s visibility has not been as obvious to the general public,” said Valerie Schick, the president of the farmers market and a honeybee farmer living east of Duvall. “Our loyal customers always find us, even when we temporarily move to a construction site, or in the last few years, tucked away in the street by our city hall steps. However, these venue disruptions and low visibility have impacted the market’s ability to acquire new customers.”
The farmers market hopes to get approval within the next month to move to DeYoung Park, she said, since the opening day is May 2 this year.
Elaine Cook, a Parks and Recreation commissioner, said she contacted businesses nearby, including Big Fish Grill, Panera, Chipotle, FedEx and Hanna Andersson, who supported moving the farmers market to DeYoung Park. The nearby businesses offered the use of their restrooms and hot water.
Several vendors spoke of the sense of community created by the farmers market.
“During my years at the market, I’ve dyed baby outfits for new Woodinville citizens and wall hangings for those same citizens as they head off to college,” said Jo Parmley, owner of 2Dye4 Distinctive Tie-Dye and a vendor at the Woodinville Farmers Market for 19 years. “I’ve been invited into people’s homes to facilitate tie-dye birthday parties and to senior centers to tie-dye with the seniors, and to Woodinville High School to work with the Future Business Leaders of America. I’ve dyed shirts for numerous sports teams and chess clubs, dyed homecoming dresses and even been a mentor for a senior project. My point is, all these connections were made through the Woodinville Farmers Market.”
City seeking developers for old Woodinville schoolhouse once again
After rejecting two proposals to develop the old Woodinville schoolhouse on NE 175th Street earlier this year, the city will send out another request for proposals (RFP.) The key difference this time is that prospective developers will have the option to buy the schoolhouse, whereas last year’s RFP would only have let them lease it.
“I too was one that initially said, ‘Ooh, I’m not going to sell the schoolhouse,’” Aspen said, following a similar statement by Mayor Talmas. “But the proposal that we were given...what they wanted to do with the schoolhouse, I thought, was very appropriate, and then they felt it was only feasible if they could purchase it. Gosh, if they could only come back and purchase it, if we couldn’t have accepted that.”
The city will also have to address the lack of parking on the site, whether to allow redeveloping part or all of the Carol Edwards Center and whether the city will contribute financially, said Alexandra Sheeks, assistant to the city manager.