A group of residents who live in Lacey’s historic neighborhood and are concerned about a senior housing project proposed nearby now have a decision to make: Will they pursue an appeal to the Lacey City Council?
That’s what Joe Panesko and other neighbors will have to decide after the Lacey hearings examiner denied their appeal of the project, following a well-attended, daylong hearing.
Southern California Developer AVS Communities wants to construct a five-story, 300-unit senior apartment building at Pacific Avenue and Carpenter Road, the site of a now-defunct Albertsons store.
Panesko and others appealed the city’s mitigated determination of nonsignificance and a site plan review decision, saying the 290,000-square-foot building, including some commercial space, was out of scale and incompatible for the area.
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Panesko said Monday that he and the other appellants are mulling their next move. All of the appellants were frustrated by the ruling, he said, and he acknowledged there was a “sense of futility” among the group about the Lacey City Council and its pro-business stance — and whether a second appeal would be successful.
“I’m still consulting with all the neighbors and anybody else who expressed an interest in this project,” Panesko said.
If they decide to appeal the hearings examiner decision, it would come before the council. The neighbors have until 5 p.m. June 16 to make that determination.
In his ruling, Hearings Examiner Ted Hunter said there was “substantial evidence” to support the city’s decision to issue the mitigated determination of nonsignificance and the site plan review committee decision on the project.
He also determined the Lacey historical neighborhood was not adjacent to the proposed project.
“The hearings examiner concludes that the proposed project site does not adjoin, abut or touch the Lacey Historical Neighborhood,” Hunter wrote.
But the definition of “adjacent” was debated during the daylong hearing, and Hunter wrote about it extensively in his ruling.
The city interprets adjacent to mean “adjoining,” “abutting,” or “touching.” Panesko defines it as near or nearby. As evidence, he had produced a 1991 city of Lacey letter that referenced the adjacent neighborhood when Albertsons was first proposed.
Panesko was disappointed that the letter was not mentioned in the hearings examiner ruling or in his analysis.
“It’s outright deference to the city’s position,” Panesko said.