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Sound Transit hears Bellevue opposition to maintenance facility options

Bellevue residents and business owners told Sound Transit on Thursday that a 25-acre maintenance facility in the city's Bel-Red Corridor could remove them from the map permanently, and urged its board to look somewhere else — anywhere else.

Sound Transit is in its 45-day public comment period for a draft environmental impact statement that analyzes four options for siting an operations and maintenance satellite facility for its expanding light rail fleet on the Eastside.Three alternatives are proposed in Bellevue and one in Lynwood. The comment period ends June 23, and the transit board plans to select its preferred route in July before beginning work on the final environmental impact statement.

The cheapest alternative for Sound Transit is to use Eastside Rail Corridor property, along with the old International Paper building it acquired last year, to site the facility east of the train tracks and west of 120th Avenue Northeast in Bellevue.

Jorge Gonzalez said that option could cost him a portion of his Barrier Motors property on 120th Avenue Northeast, used for vehicle inventory and employee parking. Former city planning director Matt Terry said industrial use there conflicts with the Bel-Red redevelopment plan and will not fit with the future mixed-use, high-density area.

Another alternative using the rail corridor would place the facility on the east side of the tracks, with storage tracks sited to the west. Most residents at Thursday's public hearing said it's just as undesirable as the other.

Jeff Myrter, general manager for Wright Runstad, said formal comments soon would be filed with Sound Transit opposing Bellevue options that would place the facility just outside of the developing Spring District, which will be a $2-billion, 20-year investment in transit oriented development. Jeanne Muir for Security Properties, which is developing the first 300-plus apartments in the Spring District with an option to double that figure, said siting a maintenance facility on the rail corridor will greatly reduce the company's interest in future development.

Rob Aigner, senior vice president for Harsch Investment Properties, was joined by tenants of Plaza 520 in opposing a third option to site the maintenance facility over its property south of State Route 520. This option would displace approximately 101 businesses and is the second-most costly alternative for Sound Transit.

"We are the face of small, local businesses in the 520 corridor," he said, adding "We've invested our money and our lives into this business" and its tenants.

Tenants like Amy Terziyski, who has owned a restaurant there with her husband for the past 11 years. She told Sound Transit if her restaurant can't stay there, they likely wouldn't be able to find another location.

"Commercial retail in Bellevue is at a premium and very hard to find," Terziyski said.

David Plummer, who had opposed the Bel-Red plan when it was being developed, repeated his opinion that the rezone there was irrational and negated the potential for other businesses to develop there. He said use of the rail corridor was the best choice as it is the cheapest option for Sound Transit, impacts the fewest properties and would provide easy access for facility workers due to its proximity to the future 120th Avenue light rail station.

To comment on Sound Transit's DEIS or find out more about the project, go to this shortened link: http://bit.ly/1k1cGNE.

 

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