Monday is the last day for Pullman residents to file objections to the development of the proposed 685-bedroom apartment complex, Elevate at Pullman.
Nothing filed later than Monday can be considered in the Pullman planning director’s decision whether the high-end, 13-story student apartment building will be built on Johnson Road where it intersects with Bishop Boulevard. The developer projects that the complex will generate 2,719 auto trips per day.
There will be no public hearing.
This front-end decision by a single individual amounts to a camel’s nose under the tent; the tent being a public hearing and decision by the Pullman Board of Adjustment.
Once the planning director approves the project, objections to conditional use permit requests have an uphill battle on a slippery slope.
The board of adjustment must overrule the planning director. If it doesn’t, appeal can be made to the City Council, which then is in a position of overruling its board of adjustment.
This process is fundamentally flawed and needs to be changed.
Meanwhile, Elevate decisions take place in a gale of business opposition to zoning regulations. If business interests see or smell green currency, it’s zoning be damned, full steam ahead, no matter the negative consequences.
Many in Pullman’s business community view opposition to business proposals as anti-business, even when they create problems for others and don’t take into consideration how or what other business interests may be damaged.
City Planning Director Pete Dickinson should reject Nelson Partners’ proposal at the first step because, on its very face, it falls far outside building codes and would require violence to the purpose of zoning and building codes through six or more variances to be granted later.
The applicant’s “Finding of Fact” document is insulting. The applicant presumes approval of six variances, most of which significantly depart from the intent of the codes.
They include a “finding” that the addition of 2,719 auto trips per day to Bishop Boulevard “could potentially benefit the increased, regular traffic” and conforms to needed quantity and quality of traffic.
Most of the traffic would be toward Washington State University via its intersection with State Route 270. Traffic there is governed by an already overworked stop light and would effectively make Latah St. a dead end for southeast bound traffic. Turning left to go to SR 270 and turn right towards Moscow already is problematic.
The applicant proposes building 60.08 units per acre instead of the maximum 44 stated by code. That is a 77-percent increase.
The applicant proposes a parking ratio of 617 parking spaces, which is 76 spaces less than the code requires.
Don’t we all know how that turned out with the Evolve apartment complex in downtown Pullman? It’s a parking disaster as resident’s cars spill out over city streets.
If you wish to give voice to city officials on the Elevate project proposal, comments should be sent to: Pete Dickinson, Planning Director, City of Pullman, 325 SE Paradise St., Pullman, WA 99163; or email to bethany.johnson@pullman-wa-gov.
In the interest of full disclosure, Ruth and I received two variances when we built our retirement home at SE 763 Ridgeview Court in Pullman. One was to allow us to build without a long sidewalk that would have wrapped around three sides of the goose neck where the street doubles back on itself.
It would have costs thousands of dollars and would have been a sidewalk to nowhere because our lot had been vacant since the subdivision was built many decades ago. No other houses in our neighborhood have sidewalks.
Our other variance was to allow the northeast corner of our house to extend 2 feet into the overlapping public right-of-way, far from the street.
In neither case was there discernable injury to neighbors.
Terence L. Day has been a Pullman resident since 1972 and is retired from the Washington State University faculty. He encourages comments to firstname.lastname@example.org