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Bothell completes environmental study
Bothell’s plan for a revamped downtown took another step forward late last month with completion of an environmental-impact study for the overall development.
According to city Senior Planner Dave Boyd, the most important feature of the study is that it is a planned-action study, one that looked at the cumulative effects of the development as far out as 25 to 30 years from the start of the project.
Boyd said City Hall intends for the action study to streamline the permitting process for any businesses that eventually might move into a revamped downtown Bothell. He said instead of having to mount full-blown impact studies themselves, future investors in the area should be able to fill out what Boyd described as a fairly simple checklist.
Boyd added he was expecting the checklist could shave up to two or three months off the permitting process for most new businesses. But he said some contractors informed him avoiding the necessity of an impact study actually could cut one or two years off the development process.
As for the environmental impacts of the overall plan, according to Boyd, most are not significant enough to warrant mitigation. He said the biggest, unavoidable negative is an increase in traffic on some streets, but Boyd also stated the projected increases are within what he called acceptable levels. Boyd added some of the overall project’s impacts may be positive, concentrating in one area of the city most future retail and commercial development and thus minimizing or eliminating impacts in other parts of town.
Protecting wetlands is a concern and — in most cases — a requirement for any development, but Boyd said local officials are working on a wetland-sustainability initiative that would address that issue throughout Bothell. As for the downtown project, Boyd said officials plan to promote the use of low-impact development techniques such as green roofs and other measures that, among other things, prevent the pollution and flow of stormwater runoff.
Green roofs are, for example, roofs that are at least partly covered with a lightweight growing media.
“The big benefit is you slow down the flow of water coming from the building,” Boyd said.
The ultimate goal is, of course, to protect local waterways. Touching on a related issue, Boyd said any discussion of possibly returning to the light of day what is known as Horse Creek probably has come to an end.
Horse Creek currently is enclosed in a pipe that runs through downtown and intersects with what is known as the Crossroads project, the plan to realign the three-way intersection of state routes 522 and 527 along with Main Street.
Boyd said city officials currently are in the process of looking at what portions of the pipe containing Horse Creek might need replacing or upgrading. But he added “daylighting” the creek probably will prove cost prohibitive. Boyd also said that, after consultation with various experts, local officials believe they may be able to get more environmental bang for their bucks by addressing problems with other waterways, such as North Creek.
During previous discussions of the downtown redevelopment and Crossroads project, city officials talked about hopefully attracting some $670 million in private mixed-use development, potentially including the creation of more than 1,300 jobs and 2,700 residential units in a greatly revamped downtown.
For those interested, the entire environmental study is available at City Hall, the Bothell Library and on the city’s Web site, www.ci.bothell.wa.us. At least an initial public hearing on the study was held during the Jan. 6 City Council session. That meeting happened after the Bothell Reporter’s deadline for this issue, but the city will accept comments on the study at least until Jan. 21.
Besides ultimately needing council’s approval, the impact study need also pass muster with various state agencies. Boyd said the study is already on the desks of the appropriate state officials and he hopes to have responses back by the end the month, responses that ultimately could be included in a finalized environmental plan.