A group of residents who live near a proposed, 300-unit senior housing apartment building in Lacey didn’t pursue their appeal of the project to Lacey City Council, the leader of the group said Monday.
The group had until 5 p.m. Thursday to make that decision.
Joe Panesko, a resident of the nearby historic neighborhood and the leader of the group, said money and time were factors in the decision not to appeal, as well as the likelihood that the council would have voted against it.
“I think it is highly unlikely that a majority of the seven council members would rule against their own city staff who have wholeheartedly approved and endorsed this monstrosity,” he said in an email to The Olympian and the other appellants.
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The “monstrosity” is also known as The Reserve at Lacey, a senior housing project pursued by AVS Communities, a Southern California developer that wants to bring the five-story, 290,000-square-foot, mixed-use project to the corner of Pacific Avenue and Carpenter Road. The building will replace a long-closed Albertsons store.
But residents of the nearby Lacey Historical Neighborhood grew alarmed at the scale of project, as well as its expected impact on traffic, noise, lighting, heights and views. To that end, they appealed to the city Hearings Examiner the city’s site plan review decision and a mitigated determination of non-significance — a decision that meant the developer wouldn’t have to prepare an environmental impact statement.
That triggered an all-day hearing before the Hearings Examiner, with the examiner ultimately ruling against the appellants and agreeing that the city had produced substantial evidence in favor of the project.
Prior to the hearing, though, the developer, through its attorney, sent a letter to the Hearings Examiner saying they would take steps to placate neighborhood concerns, such as shielding project lighting, enclosing an emergency generator to limit noise, and supporting a plan to reduce traffic and speeds on Ulery Street, which runs through the historic neighborhood.
Still, Panesko questioned whether any of those steps were binding because they weren’t included in the Hearings Examiner’s ruling, he said.
Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder acknowledged Monday that the city could have done a better job of reaching out to the neighbors about the project.
But he also defended it, saying the city had few development options with the Albertsons’ property. It also meets a council goal of more mixed-use development and higher density on city corridors, and it should bring additional business to merchants in the area, he said.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunities it will bring to the entire area,” Ryder said.