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Submitted comments will appear below after staff approval.
Margaret Auth 6/1/2016 2:10:47 PM
I am writing to oppose this rezone. As a 30 year resident who lives nearby, I believe this will have negative consequences on a stable, healthy neighborhood. The owner wants to build six or seven high rise affordable housing units they say will have no affect on the surrounding neighborhood, even though traffic is expected to increase by 250% on Northwood and West 45th is already over utilized. By its own analysis, in a December 21, 2015 memo, the Traffic Engineering section of the Municipality stated that West 45th ranked 13th and West 48th ranked 11th in need of traffic calming within the Spenard Community Council boundaries. And yet now, just months later, they have no problem with the hundreds of additional vehicles that are surely going to be using those roads. They also would allow West 44th to be constructed to Iowa, dumping hundreds of vehicles on to what is now a quiet neighborhood street. Both the Traffic Engineers at the Municipality and the owners solution to what will most certainly be traffic problems in the surrounding area is to build out 2/3 of the project and revisit the accident rate at Harding/Tudor, calming on West 45th and congestion at Spenard and Northwood. Who is going to pay for improvements for the negative affects of traffic on these areas? Are we to believe it will be the developers? Or will it be a cash strapped Municipality that will tell the angry residents that they will have to wait for remediation? In the meantime, the quality of life for those residents seem to be getting short shrift in this plan. The Municipal traffic division doesn't even address the current traffic congestion around the Northwood Elementary and Denali Montessori schools when the they are in session. Traffic can already back up for several cycles at Northwood and Spenard. This will only get worse. The owner’s representative also stated that most of their tenants will take the bus which is impossible to prove and is entirely speculative. The owners have ignored the statements of dozens of people that the land was underwater in 1989. The owner states in their petition how the conservation easement will protect and enhance the environment. What they don't say is their plans will undo years of work by the Municipality to complete the Fish Creek trail on the land that the Municipality purchased and which the Spenard Community Council has championed and supported for 20 years. They also do not address how they will not have a deleterious affects on property owners to the south who are already contending with water issues from high water tables created by Northwood Park and the raising of Northwood Drive. Neighbors to the north will most likely lose sunlight in the long winter days and will have a new road, more traffic, more people and more problems in what is now a stable, well maintained neighborhood. Neighbors that live on on West 45th won’t be the only ones feeling the traffic surge as West 46th, West 47th, West 48th and even Aspen and Melvin will most likely have increases in traffic, whether cut through from commuters avoiding West 45th or the affects of having hundreds of new residents living a block or two away and their visitors and guests. The plan the owners are suggesting are speculative. There is nothing for the community to look at, no plans, no architectural renderings. The petitioner’s representative has stated that the buildings will be 70 feet tall. That is taller than almost all the buildings downtown except for the hotels. There is no other concentration of development like this in all of Anchorage. Why should this neighborhood absorb the bad decision making of past Planning and Zoning Commissions, Anchorage Assemblies and the Municipality itself? There have been many, many rezones from residential to business in Spenard in recent years while the Spenard Community Council and area residents have pleaded to keep the land as it is for future residential development. In fact, the Planning and Zoning Commission just recently approved two rezones from residential to business in Spenard. Now the Municipality wants our neighborhood to handle their shortsightedness and bear the burden of making up for all the lost residential land they rezoned away. The needs for residential housing may have changed since the Planning and Zoning Commission limited this tract to 180 units, but the reality of the neighborhood has not changed: it is still a low density, well established residential neighborhood that can neither accommodate nor desires either the 348 units the Municipality wants nor the 680 units the owners are requesting. A better alternative is to use the 10 acre parcel which was purchased for the archives and rezoned from R-3 to B-3 against the Spenard Community Council's wishes. It is near transportation, jobs, dining, recreation and a wonderful park. It is in an area with several high rises and would fit in more appropriately.
Stanley and Susan Jones 5/20/2016 10:55:17 PM
We are writing to oppose the proposed rezoning of Tract 3, Boettcher Subdivision from R-3 SL to R-4. This is related to the proposed development known as Northwood at the Park and located immediately west of Northwood Drive in the vicinity of its intersection with W. 45th Avenue. The property is identified on the rezoning application with Property Tax #010-244-28. We are the 12-year owners and residents of a single-family home located on Melvin Avenue and abutting the south edge of Northwood Park. We believe that our quality of life and the value of our property would be harmed by this development. We believe the rezoning application should be rejected because the development would have unacceptable negative impacts on the neighborhood, and also because the application itself is incomplete, internally inconsistent, and grounded more on speculation and assumption than on verifiable data. Specifically: 1.Nowhere in the application, so far as we could discover, is the height of the six proposed buildings specified. Therefore, the application is incomplete on this point. 2.The proposed development would include 680 units, resulting in an extremely high density of approximately 68 units per acre. At present, the neighborhood around the parcel is primarily single-family homes with scattered small apartment buildings. Adding this many multi-family units on a single parcel would completely change the character of our neighborhood in a very negative way. 3.The application does not specify how many people are expected to live in the 680 units, or how many of them would be children who would attend local schools. Nor does it indicate how many parking spaces would be needed to accommodate these tenants. Therefore, the application is incomplete on these points. 4.On p. 3 of the narrative, the application refers to “raising the buildings out of the floodplain.” However, on p. 8 the narrative states: “the lowering of the site to create more parking area in the floodplain may slow floodwater from traveling downstream in the event of a major flooding event. In addition, this is a rare opportunity to add to the community’s watershed that cannot be easily duplicated on this scale.” Not only are these two statements somewhat inconsistent, but the second passage seems to say the developers plan to lower the ground level on at least some developed areas of the property to put it below flood level, rather than raising it to get all developed portions above flood level. In our minds, these statements raise some question as to whether the property could even be considered safe and suitable for occupancy if some parts of it would intentionally be lowered into the floodplain. Therefore, the application is either in error on this point, or is proposing a development strategy that appears to be unacceptable on its face. (Additionally, we note in passing that the application does not specify how exactly how the property would be graded, lowered, contoured or elevated. The application is therefore incomplete on this point.) 5.On p. 3 of the narrative, the application projects site development starting in 2017, with building construction commencing in 2018. However, on p. 11, the narrative states that “development is projected to commence within three years of the proposed rezoning.” Therefore, the application in internally inconsistent on the timing of the development plan. 6.On p. 4 of the narrative, the application states, “the development will probably (our emphasis) use under-building parking to reduce the need for surface parking.” On p. 7-8, the narrative asserts that the project is “conceptually designed (our emphasis) with under-building parking.” Both of these statements indicate that under-building parking is not a guaranteed element of the project. However, on p. 8, the narrative takes the opposite tone, stating that the under-building parking “will (our emphasis) allow for a greater portion of the property to be dedicated to landscape and other site amenities.” As a result of this language, the application is both incomplete and internally inconsistent on the question of under-building parking. 7.On p. 10, the narrative notes that the “density of the proposed project is greater than is suggested by the WADP” but it fails to justify this exceedance except in vague and conceptual terms. 8.Page 16 of the application is labeled “esri Housing Profile.” This profile indicates 6,536 rental housing units as of 2015, and a need for 6,775 units by 2020. This is an apparent increase of 239 units. However, a pullout note on this page asserts that “Almost 640 more new rental housing units are projected to be needed by 2020.” Either the proposers have made a large mathematical error of about 400 units, or they have failed to to explain the source of this figure. Thus, the application is either in error or unclear on the question of the need for additional housing. Further, if the apparent projection of an increased demand of 239 units is accurate, the project as proposed with its 680 units would result in a large oversupply of unneeded rental units in the market. 9.Page 21 of the application indicates the development would generate an additional 4522 trips per day of traffic on Northwood Drive, which is a two-lane neighborhood road. A map on page 22 of the application indicates Northwood Drive had 1835 trips per day as of 2013 (and, as regular users of Northwood Drive, we can state that traffic there does not seem to have increased significantly since then). Thus, total traffic on Northwood be 1835 + 4522 = 6357 trips per day if this project was developed. This is more than three times the 2013 level and would completely change the character of Northwood Drive, as well as jeopardizing the value of nearby properties, including ours. We note in addition that most of the south half of Northwood Drive is a 20 mph school zone during parts of the day. This further increases the probability of rush-hour traffic jams because of the increased load that would be placed on this roadway as a result of this development. In particular, we note that this application envisions many tenants of the project working at Ted Stevens International Airport. As these tenants would presumably seek to reach work by proceeding south on Northwood to International Airport Road, traffic conditions through the Northwood Elementary School zone could become quite severe. In conclusion: This application is incomplete, defective, confusing, internally inconsistent, and possibly misleading. Therefore, the request for rezoning should be denied. Also we would suggest an alternative that would provide the developers with a more suitable property for development elsewhere while allowing the Northwood property to become part of Northwood Park, which is a far more suitable use for it. Our suggestion is to arrange a swap (with differences in value covered by cash payments) of the Northwood property for the National Archives property that is becoming available in Midtown. This would appear to be a win-win solution for everyone. The Midtown parcel is ideal for development and in an area likely to welcome, while dedicating the Northwood parcel to parkland would preserve the existing character of our pleasant neighborhood. Thank you for considering our views. Stanley & Susan Jones
Heather Smith 5/19/2016 6:08:48 PM
I would like to address the Rezoning request of case 2015-0093 I have lived in this are of Spenard for the last 50 years, actually in the same house for over 50 years. For years we have tried to keep this neighbor hood low density and welcoming to families and children. To build a high density complex and eliminate the height restrictions seem to defeat our neighborhood plans and desires. There are already many other large building plans for the Spenard Area and we do not need to continue to crowed or make this area more dense. Fish Creek runs through this 9.96 acres and makes it in many places wet lands for birds and other water fowl to nest. It connects to Northwood park land and has flooded many times.Have you thought about extending the park area for a better use of this land for everyone to enjoy? Have you or the Municipality considered making it into a soccer field or other recreational area? It would seem a much more appropriate use of this kind of land. There is a major problem with traffic and access to a multi unit development is not available and will cause more traffic problems. I would strongly speak against this rezoning . Thank you for your consideration, Heather Smith 2509 W. 43rd ct Anchorage, Alaska 99517
Janet and Al Mills 5/18/2016 7:54:53 PM
My husband and I have lived at 4711 Haru Lane since 1985. I also believe that the impact on traffic and schools would be an unsolvable situation no matter how it is being presented to us. We own the open lot and adjacent house and lot south of Northwood Park. This whole bowl area is a flood plane. I believe that construction on this site would raise the water table level of the whole area. When Northwood Street was redone some years back, they repaved the whole street and then let it set over the winter to compact it down and make it more stable. The following summer, they tore it back up pressed it down more and repaved it again. By the time they got to our property line the water table started raising on our house lot and our open lot became flooded. We have been pumping water out of our crawl space ever since. We were appeased by the digging of a culvert from our open lot to the Park, but last summer the water backed through the culvert from the Park to our lot. Just the compression of the earth from relaying a street caused not only problems for us but I've watched the water in Northwood Park spread out in all directions. Long story short, I believe that this project would have disastrous consequences. I would like to see a hydrologist at this upcoming meeting. We are 100% against this project.
Martin Smith 5/3/2016 8:57:20 PM
As a life-long resident in Spenard, I am for responsible development, but do not believe this application qualifies as responsible because the number of units is not consistent with the surrounding neighborhood, doesn’t address the impact to local schools, and doesn’t address the impact of cut-through traffic from Northwood to Tudor road along W 45th Avenue. Within the surrounding area there are apartment complexes but none of them are as large as the proposed development which would have on average 100 units per building. With six of these buildings on the site, the character of the neighborhood would be drastically changed. It is also noted in the application on page 3, “Because of the very high cost of raising the buildings out of the floodplain, the economics of the project depend on a higher density than would be possible in the standard R-3 zoning.” This is the real reason for the request to change from R-3SL to R-4. Even with an R-3 zoning with some of the special limitations removed, specifically the access requirement to Spenard Road, there would be over 300 units that could be constructed on the lot. Northwood Elementary is the neighborhood school and Denali Montessori is located in an adjacent property. With 680 units in the proposed development, there will be significant influx of children into the neighborhood school. This impact needs to be taken into account because the schools will not be able to react in these days of reduced state funding and the public's reluctance to pass school bonds. The last issue is quite simple to explain. West 45th Avenue is often used by local residents to get to Tudor road rather than going through three stop lights from Northwood via Spenard and Minnesota. There is a section of W 45th Avenue where the right-of-way is very narrow, only approximately 25 feet wide. This width cannot be made into adequate size road to carry the expected traffic without significant right-of-way acquisition costs. A more reasonable approach would be to remove the requirement for access to Spenard while maintaining the 35 feet height limitation. This would allow 6 buildings with approximately 50 to 60 units each. If the property cannot be developed at an R-3 zoning level, the Municipality may look to see if there is other developable property that can be traded. The property in question could be made into an extension of Northwood Park to the south. This would accomplish two goals: land that can be reasonably developed would be in the hands of a developer who wants to create higher density housing and keeps green space available for all of Anchorage to enjoy.
Keith and Darlene Appel 4/25/2016 11:54:28 AM
As 50-year residents of this Spenard neighborhood, we are opposed to the plan for the Northwood Drive property. This is already a highly populated area tightly sandwiched between major roads--Spenard, International, Minnesota and Tudor. If high-density housing is allowed at Northwood at the Park, the cars, bikes, pedestrians, etc., will all have to exit via Northwood. Northwood is already a busy road with two elementary schools. Additionally, there is a great deal of truck traffic funneling into the many commercial centers located nearby. It also has become a common shortcut between International and Spenard. In additional to traffic, there will be a great impact to the public school and to neighborhood life for the current residents. We encourage the municipality to look for an alternative to high-density housing for this area. This proposal is not the best use of this property for the well being of this neighborhood.
Al and Kay Olson 4/15/2016 11:01:21 AM
We are opposed to any development on the above noted property. We have lived three blocks from the proposed development for 48 years and have witnessed several floods on the majority of the property – it’s wetlands. Numerous unsuccessful attempts have been made in the past to develop the property to no avail – it’s wetlands. The property should be become part of the Fish Creek development – its highest and best use is moose habitat! Please do not allow this property to be developed with high density homes.
Beth Welty 4/13/2016 2:37:30 PM
This proposal states that the owner wants to put a 680-unit complex with 6 different building on this lot next to the park. The lot size cannot accommodate a development of this size and I am against this proposal and rezone.