Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Design Charrette? Sunnyland Beware.

Charrette: a French word for a wagon used for carrying the condemned to the guillotine and, alternatively, for hauling manure.

A preview of the manner in which infill will proceed is upon us as city officials hope (wish) that Sunnyland residents and property owners reach agreement by attending the "design charette (sic)" meetings on the development of the vacant four acres next to St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church. (See the Herald article on the subject by clicking here.) Sunnyland was featured in my first month of blogging by a report from one of its residents about the sorry state of rentals in the Sunnyland neighborhood. (You can read that posting by clicking here.) Although it is too soon to determine the outcome of the much awaited Sunnyland parley, I suggest that the residents press city officials on enforcement actions before the dwellings are, so to speak, set in concrete. Once these nice little homes devolve into rentals, at which time occupancy/density will swell beyond the planning figures, you will find another degraded and overcrowded neighborhood which becomes unlivable and where code enforcement could very well be absent. Take a look at Magnolia Hills (Puget Neighborhood) for inspiration. This is “the how” that I spoke of when I wrote on Planning Academy II (Click here to read that blog entry.)


driftwood said...

After attending the "Design Charrette" or "Poop Wagon" it seemed to me that the design firm hired by the city might as well been working for the developer directly. The proposal they submitted may not have been the highest density possible, I suppose we could fit a few more people on there if we stacked them like cordwood, but they had 48 units squeezed onto the lot! This does not fit into the existing community, the Sunnyland residents seemed to think that about half that number, anywhere from 24 to 29 units was a reasonable compromise, the developer wanted 49 units...what a coincidence! If the design firm was unbiased and impartial how did they arrive at such an inflated figure and why did they totally ignore the imput from the current residents? Are we paying these folks or is the developer? They presented an
impressive bunch of diagrams, illustrations and color pictures that I must admit, were very pretty...there were just too many of them! The folks that did the presentation were personable and friendly but that doesn't mask the fact that they were trying to fit too many houses into too small a space. Who stands to gain from this whole project and who stands to lose...that is obvious. The developers interest lies in placing as many townhomes, duplexes, and cottages as possible onto the property, more money for him and I suppose he can get away from it all with an nice big Mc Mansion in Montana perhaps complete with a big log arch over the driveway to drive his Hummer under. We, the residents of Sunnyland, who purchased our homes in this neighborhood for the character of the area will bear the brunt of the project if it goes forward as currently proposed. The design firm indicated that each unit would have parking for 1.5 vehicles, great...what about when they have visitors or what if they have more than one vehicle per household, and who has half a car anyway?! Where will the overflow parking go since they want to build with such density? My guess is they will park out into the surrounding neighborhood and you will find yourself parking a block and a half from your house and the effect will cascade down thru the area, so, even if you don't live immediately adjacent to this conglomeration, plan on seeing strange cars parked in front of your home. They didn't address the impact of all the new traffic on the area and the intersection at Sunset and James already experiences backups quite often, a lot of this traffic will be forced into the neighborhood to the south meaning more traffic thru what right now is a wonderful, quiet residential area. Zoom, Zoom. One nice woman, whom, I'm sure was offering accurate advice, told us that we needed to draw up our own pictures and presentation to offer the city council since "they really liked that!" The developer has the resources to hire professional artists and draftsmen to come up with some really flashy visual aides to wow the council...although he really doesn't have to since the folks hired by the city seem to have acheived that already. Why should we have to convince OUR elected representatives to do the right thing for the neigborhood? Ideally a lot of folks would like to see the same number of homes go up on the site as already exist in it's surroundings in order to preserve the character of the community, the value of their homes, and the quality of life, but, we recognize that for the good of Bellingham and it's environs and to avoid sprawl and maintain our open space we need infill, but it needs to be done correctly balancing the needs of the current residents, newcomers, and the property owner...the proposal as it stands now needs to be revised, 48 units is not a compromise, we know when it's not rain thats falling on us.

Anonymous said...

been trying to get Mt. Pleasant, MI to abide ordinance, so far no luck Misconduct in Office