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City Council Postpones Vote on Group Health Development

More than 20 people testified at a public hearing on the proposed 28-acre development Tuesday.

The Redmond City Council decided Tuesday to postpone a scheduled vote on owned by Group Health Cooperative.

The decision came after more than 20 people testified during a public hearing at that lasted nearly two hours. Several of those who testified said they were concerned about the scope of the project and Group Health's plans to remove more than 1,000 trees from the property.

Joe Shuster, one of four people who spoke on behalf of Sustainable Redmond, said the development would take away a unique urban forest that thrives in a densely populated area. The neighborhood is already home to plenty of roads and buildings, he said.

"The gem in this model is the forest—it's the exceptional thing," he said.

Group Health representatives had previously told the city council the trees must be removed because tearing up existing pavement would compromise their structural integrity, while the removal of surrounding trees would make the ones that remain vulnerable to wind storms.  

Larry Martin, a legal consultant for the development agreement, urged the council not to lose sight of years of regional planning that calls for Overlake to become a major urban center. The "big picture," Martin said, requires high-density areas that enable growth to happen close to jobs, mass transportation and high-capacity utility systems.

"We need to have planned, coordinated growth," he said. "We have to think differently; we have to act differently." 

But several residents who testified said the downsides to the proposal are too great to outweigh the advantages from high-density development.

"It's just a massive scale," said Ernest Wilson, who lives in the Idylwood neighborhood. "For the life of me, I just don't understand why we want to make part of Redmond look like downtown Kirkland."

The city council could reconsider the proposal as soon as Dec. 13; an official date has yet to be announced.

Fore more information on the proposed development, to read an archived Patch story.

Karin Halvorson December 08, 2011 at 11:38 AM
yay! make it a community center and park. I don't understand why Group health wanted to close the hospital in the first place! it was well used and loved

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