Future Queen Anne decides against appeal

Members of a Queen Anne group that has pushed back against a proposed development in the neighborhood have decided against continuing their fight in the legal system.

In an email to supporters earlier this month, Future Queen Anne announced it would not file an appeal to King County Superior Court after the group’s appeal of the State Environmental Policy Act/Master Use Permit (SEPA/MUP) approval of an approximately 60-unit townhome plan was rejected.

That development by Pennsylvania-based real estate company Toll Brothers, on the site of the former Seattle Children’s Home campus, has drawn skepticism from community members for its size and scope, and the potential impact on nearby infrastructure.

Terri Johnston of Future Queen Anne said while she felt the group had grounds for an appeal, it didn’t have the resources of the multi-billion dollar corporation it would be facing.

“When we looked at filing to the next level,” Johnston said, “basically our resources are just out of scale with where they are.”

Future Queen Anne had argued in their previous appeal to the city’s hearing examiner that because of the property’s unusual size (approximately 2.5 acres), codes and regulations alone could not adequately assess impacts of the proposed development. The group also argued that in some instances, the city either received incorrect information, or did not receive important information while conducting it sreview.

Johnston said though the final outcome of their appeal wasn’t what they had hoped for, the group was able to accomplish a lot during their advocacy efforts.

She cited Toll’s commitment to preserving a row of Elm trees in the public right of way along Ninth Avenue West, something particularly important considering Elms make up approximately one percent of the city’s tree canopy.

“It’s pretty unusual to have a row of them like that,” she said.

Johnston also noted that the number of units that will be built is lower than what the original plans called for, and that there will be a public stairway built to connect Ninth and 10th avenues, as both McGraw and Crockett streets are steep and not pedestrian-friendly.

Another compromise came in the form of the historic McGraw cottage at the corner of 10th Avenue West and McGraw Street, one of the oldest surviving institutional buildings in Queen Anne. While Future Queen Anne was ultimately unsuccessful in getting it designated as a historical site, Johnston said that Toll has committed to retaining the building.

But even with some successes, Johnston also said there was frustration with how the city appears to be handling new development as a whole, and how it takes neighborhoods to push to properly assess projects and their potential impacts.

“Instead of seeing that the city is really guiding development and including public interests in one of the hottest real estate markets in the U.S.,” she said, “it seems that we’re acting like a frontier town without limits.”

And while the appeal process draws to a close, Johnston said the group’s work is far from done.

She said that the group hopes to continue working with Toll, along with other stakeholders like the Seattle Department of Transportation (on the influx of additional cars with new residents), and the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission (regarding the Elm trees).

“We really hope that Toll — when we reach out again — will realize that as well for their future residents that addressing some of these things is to everyone’s benefit,” she said.

For more information on Future Queen Anne, visit www.futurequeenanne.com. To comment on this story, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.