Panel recommends Bellevue look at "megahome" restrictions
As three-story "megahomes" multiply in Bellevue — dwarfing 1960s bungalows — the complaints of residents have grown...
Seattle Times Eastside bureau
As three-story "megahomes" multiply in Bellevue — dwarfing 1960s bungalows — the complaints of residents have grown as well.
To address those concerns, the city's Planning Commission on Wednesday unanimously recommended that the City Council consider restrictions on landscaping, height, scale and construction. The proposals were general in nature, with few specifics on size and detail.
The recommendations are scheduled to go to the City Council next month.
"We're trying not to establish hard-and-fast rules that place too many restrictions on what people can do with their property," Cheryl Kuhn, Bellevue neighborhood-outreach manager, said before the meeting. "The commission is more interested in mitigating some of the negative impacts rather than telling people what they can and can't build."
Among the recommendations forwarded to the council:
• A limitation on the amount of floor area that could be developed in relation to lot size. This restriction would curb the practice of building to the edge of properties.
• An increase in the amount of space required between the house and neighboring property.
• A ban on lot combinations, so a developer could not combine two lots to build one home.
The council would then review the recommendations and decide which of the proposals the commission should develop further.
The average size of a house being built today in Bellevue is 4,200 square feet, Kuhn said.
Neighborhood concerns include preservation of neighborhood character and loss of privacy, light and views.
"In general, there was a negative reaction to the large scale of what was being built," said Doug Leigh, president of the West Bellevue Community Club.
Other size and scale recommendations address preventing homes from blocking sunlight to a neighboring home and protecting aesthetics of the neighborhood, such as banning air-conditioning units on roofs and preventing garages from protruding from or overwhelming the face of homes.
Another set of recommendations addressed loss of trees.
"I think the thing we hear the most complaints about is tree loss," Kuhn said.
One recommendation would require vegetation in front yards and ban developers from converting yards to concrete. Another recommendation would call for developers to maintain a certain percentage of the original amount of trees on the lot.
The recommendations also address the impact of construction on the neighborhoods.
Developers would have to remove debris on a weekly basis from construction sites, notify residents about complaint procedures and post a sign in the neighborhood to inform residents about redevelopment activity.
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