BELLINGHAM - After months of discussion, City Council has rejected a proposed rezone of the 113-acre Padden Trails area west of Lake Padden Park and northeast of Interstate 5.
On Monday, June 18, the council voted 6-1 to deny the rezone, with Gene Knutson dissenting, after failing to summon four votes for various compromise proposals that would have given property owners at least some of the redevelopment options they had been seeking.
The Padden Trails property is now zoned for 246 single-family homes, but the owners - Padden Trails LLC and managing partner George Huston - had applied for zoning and comprehensive plan changes to allow as many as 492 housing units, including multi-family buildings.
Faced with widespread opposition from neighbors, developers later suggested that they could live with plans that would allow 348 new units, or 410 if some of those units are set aside for lower-cost dwellings.
Some neighbors contended the rezone to multi-family would harm the neighborhood's character and hurt their property values. Others argued against allowing an increase in the number of households, fearing traffic and emergency access problems.
Consultant Bill Geyer, a spokesman for the Padden Trails developers, said he hoped the matter would come before council again in August, during the annual review of proposed city comprehensive plan amendments.
But at Monday's council meeting, a motion to take up the issue again during the August review failed on a 4-3 vote, with Seth Fleetwood, Gene Knutson and Cathy Lehman in favor, and Jack Weiss, Stan Snapp, Terry Bornemann and Michael Lilliquist opposed.
Bornemann, the council president, said the Padden Trails proposal is dead as far as City Council is concerned. The next move, if any, would be up to developers.