City Will No longer Hear Issues on Forest Street Housing Development
by Ian Lilley
900 N Forest Street — once a church is now a construction site. The site is across the street from the Orchard Terrace Apartments.
The project planned in 2014, is for a luxury student housing project constructed by the Rael Development Corporation. It will be the largest single building in Bellingham, at 290,000 square feet, for comparison, each and every building of the Bellis Fair Mall combined is 770,000 square feet, less than 3 times the size. The city has approved some foundation work and the construction of storm drainage.
However, not everyone agrees with the city’s decision to approve Rael Corporation’s plans. Friends of Forest Street (FOFS), a citizen’s group consisting of Sehome Neighborhood residents and some of Bellingham’s environment community, has filed an appeal with the city council contesting that decision and the acceptability of Rael Corporation’s planned development.
The Friends of Forest Street Appeal was to be debated at a public hearing on July 13, 2016, at Bellingham City Council Chambers, on Lottie St. But on Friday, June 24, 2016, the Bellingham Hearing Examiner ruled “The appellants’ materials … fail to establish any injury sufficient to confer standing.”
Instead, Friends of Forest Street meet at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 9, 2016, at the Forest Street Co-op to discuss what people want to do next.
Contact the group at 360-671-0248 or firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or to voice support.
Below are the Items Friends of Forest Street Appealed to the Bellingham Hearing Examiner
The Friends of Forest Street appeal alleges nine specific problems with the plans:
1. The project claims a height of 24.2’ which is under the area limit of 25,’ however, this is only measured from the bridge connecting it to Garden Street from Forest Street. The building itself is 75-feet high.
2. The project will narrow the Forest Street such that all right of way will be ruined, making the street dangerous to drive on.
3. The height of the building on Forest Street and the distance the building will be from Garden Street make it inaccessible to fire crews in emergencies.
4. The project as reviewed by the city is inconsistent with the initial development plan. The building design is for seven stories but was presented and approved as two stories.
5. The architectural plan does not contain adequate environment and safety information.
6. The planned building does not contain enough discharge exits.
7. The plan does not provide adequate accessibility.
8. Promotional materials and early plans given to the city are inconsistent: the building is designed as 75-feet tall but was approved by the city as 25-feet tall.
9. The plan for the building is of such size and complexity that in the allotted time for approval, examiners could not have had time to review the material properly.