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North Beacon Hill DNS appeal resolved

May 7th, 2010 at 5:38 pm | 5 Comments | Posted by Melissa Jonas

On May 3, the Seattle Hearing Examiner decided in favor of the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) and El Centro de La Raza when reviewing the appeal filed in late January by Frederica Merrell against the DPD regarding the Determination of Nonsignificance (DNS) of the North Beacon Hill neighborhood plan update process. (Previous coverage and discussion of the appeal can be found here.)

The full text of the decision is here. The decision is based on findings that DPD environmental reviews were adequate in regards to the proposed update to the North Beacon Hill Neighborhood Plan. It also states that the proposed updates do not significantly change growth targets or other aspects of the City of Seattle Comprehensive Plan with regards to Beacon Hill:

“There is no evidence in the record that the Plan Update would result in increased density within the North Beacon Hill Residential Urban Village beyond that anticipated in the Comprehensive Plan. The proposed goals and policies in the Plan Update and those in the existing Neighborhood Plan both anticipate greater density in the town center area and near the light rail station. The Plan Update is a document that begins the process of determining how the growth that is already anticipated by the Comprehensive Plan’s existing growth targets for the Residential Urban Village will be accommodated and shaped.”

To learn more and to become involved in planning the future of North Beacon Hill and the Neighborhood Plan Update, attend the Neighborhood Plan Update Action Team Kick-Off meeting next Friday, May 14 at Asa Mercer Middle School, 1600 South Columbian Way.


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11 of 13 issues dismissed from North Beacon Hill DNS appeal

March 31st, 2010 at 3:10 am | No Comments | Posted by Melissa Jonas

The Hearing Examiner has dismissed all but two issues from the North Beacon Hill DNS appeal filed on January 29 by Frederica Merrell, stating that the dismissed issues are “broad, conclusory allegations unsupported by any stated facts,” and that they do not meet municipal code and Hearing Examiner requirements that issues raised in an appeal be clear, concise, and specific. Additionally, the ruling states that the issues “fail to give the Department and Intervenor fair notice of the claims being asserted.” Two of the issues were dismissed outright earlier this month, and nine more in a decision given on Monday.  The hearing will now address the two issues that remain.

The two remaining issues are:

#6: “The DPD failed to meaningfully consider the probable impacts of the future development that would be allowed by the proposed changes to the Comprehensive Plan and zoning.” The ruling states, “Although the appeal failed to specify the probable impacts being referred to, the Appellant stated in her response to the motions to dismiss that this issue is addressed to the impacts of additional density on public services.” With that clarification, the issue was deemed sufficiently specific to be considered.

#8: “The DPD did not use notice procedures that were reasonably calculated to provide notice to property owners and other affected and interested individuals, tribes, government agencies, businesses, school districts, and organizations of the proposed amendments to comprehensive plans.” This issue was also clarified by Merrell; the March 11 ruling states that “the Appellant clarifies that the notice issue concerns the changes, alleged to be substantive, that the Department made while consolidating goals and policies after public notice of the DNS.”

For a full explanation of the decision, read the Examiner’s ruling here.  The appeal is still scheduled to be heard on Monday, April 26, 9:00 am at the Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 5th Avenue.  The Othello appeal hearing has been rescheduled to May 24, and the North Rainier appeal was dismissed earlier this month.

See also Cienna Madrid’s recent post about this in the Slog.

(Editor’s note: Issues #6 and #8 appear to be the same as issues #4 and #6 in the original January 29 version of the appeal.)


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First ruling on neighborhood plan appeal released

March 24th, 2010 at 3:08 pm | 1 Comment | Posted by Melissa Jonas

Sue Tanner, the Hearing Examiner, has released her first ruling regarding the appeal Frederica Merrell filed last month against the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) regarding the Determination of Nonsignificance (DNS) of the North Beacon Hill neighborhood plan update process. Here is the full text of the ruling.

Tanner dismissed two issues in the appeal outright because they are outside the jurisdiction of the Hearing Examiner’s office (the issues were related to planning process).  She upheld one issue that DPD and El Centro de La Raza had requested to be dismissed, regarding whether DPD provided adequate notice for attendance at a meeting.

The revised schedule for the appeal is included in the document.  The final hearing on the appeal is currently scheduled for April 26 at 9:00 am.

Cienna Madrid at the Slog has reported on this as well, and notes that one of the other two nearly identical appeals filed last month, the North Rainier (Mount Baker) appeal, has been dismissed because the appellants did not respond to the motion to dismiss. The Othello appeal continues and is scheduled for May 24 at 9:00 am.


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The Stranger weighs in on SE Seattle appeals

February 25th, 2010 at 7:03 am | 24 Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Organizers set up tables at the Festival Street opening last December in front of El Centro's empty south lot. Photo by Jason.

Cienna Madrid at The Stranger has written a story about the recent appeals filed against the North Beacon Hill, Othello, and North Rainier (Mount Baker) neighborhood plan updates. The article discusses El Centro de la Raza’s plans to develop the land just south of their building, plans which are—for now—on hold. State law allows neighborhood plans to be amended only once a year. Whether the appeals are upheld or not won’t be determined until it is too late to meet the deadline for this year, so the appeals are automatically forcing a one-year delay to any plan changes.

Madrid interviewed Estela Ortega from El Centro, Bill LaBorde of Transportation Choices Coalition, City Councilmember Sally Clark and David Goldberg of the Department of Planning and Development, and also attempted to speak with North Beacon appellant Frederica Merrell and the appellants from the other Southeast Seattle neighborhoods—for the most part, however, the petitioners aren’t talking. (The exception is Jenna Walden of the Othello group, who suggests that the reason for her group’s appeal is that it is a protest against marginalization of neighborhood groups.)

The resulting article pulls no punches; it concludes, “…Merrell and her cohorts appear to be more concerned with winning than pursuing the best interests of their neighborhoods and the city.”

Responses from The Stranger‘s readers on the website have been mixed.

The article is here. Seattle Transit Blog also posted about the Stranger article.

(ed. note—Frederica Merrell occasionally contributes opinion articles to the Beacon Hill Blog.)


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North Beacon plan update appeal is one of three

February 12th, 2010 at 6:08 am | 1 Comment | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Frederica Merrell’s appeal filed recently against the Determination of Nonsignificance (DNS) of the North Beacon Hill neighborhood plan update (also discussed here and here) is not unique. The Beacon Hill Blog has been made aware that Merrell’s appeal is one of three nearly-identical appeals filed on January 29 by residents in each of the Southeast Seattle neighborhoods that recently went through a neighborhood plan update: Othello, North Rainier (Mount Baker), and North Beacon Hill. (Read the Othello appeal here, the North Rainier appeal here, and the North Beacon appeal here.) The appeals are nearly word-for-word identical, with only a few minor differences (such as the sections describing each distinct neighborhood and the appellants’ connection with them).

The Othello appeal was filed by Ron Momoda, Patricia Paschal, and Jenna Walden. The North Rainier appeal was filed by Pat Murakami and Barbara Marino. Most are well-known neighborhood activists in Southeast Seattle, and several were active last year in speaking out against House Bill 1490 and Senate Bill 5687, which would have created incentives and requirements for transit-oriented development and density near light rail stations.

The three appeals all request the same thing: that DPD’s Determination of Non-Significance (DNS) for each neighborhood’s plan update be vacated, and that DPD be required to take other actions including additional community notification, review, and validation, and environmental impact analyses.

The North Beacon appeal has been the subject of some heated controversy in the comments sections of the BHB posts linked above, with some commenters suggesting that the appeals are specifically intended to cause the entire update process to be scrapped, or that they were filed in order to block any upzoning or increased density, while some others say the update plan was flawed from the start, and that appeals such as this are a necessary and important part of the process of making this update work for North Beacon Hill.

El Centro de la Raza, who have had plans to develop their property just north of Lander Street, have filed their own motion to intervene and dismiss Merrell’s appeal.

The recently published Neighborhood Plan updates (the North Beacon one is here) were developed through a process that began in Fall 2008 and continued through 2009 with community meetings and open houses in March, May, and September.

(ed. note—Frederica Merrell occasionally contributes opinion articles to the Beacon Hill Blog.)


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El Centro requests DNS appeal be dismissed

February 4th, 2010 at 11:50 am | 1 Comment | Posted by Jason

El Centro de la Raza has requested to the City of Seattle’s Hearing Examiner that the appeal of the Determination of Non-Significance filed by Frederica Merrell be dismissed, citing their own involvement in the neighborhood planning process, the impact on their property, and appeal issues said to be ‘not ripe’ for the premature involvement of the office of Hearing Examiner. If not dismissed, they have requested that the appeal be restricted solely to the legal issue of the proper execution of Washington Administrative Code sections 197-11-055 (Timing of the SEPA process), 197-11-060 (Content of environmental review), and 197-11-228 (Overall SEPA/GMA integration procedures).

The full letter as provided to us by Estela Ortega of El Centro de la Raza is after the jump, or available as a PDF here.

More »


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