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Family at odds with Olympia neighborhood over proposed housing development

A proposed senior housing development generated opposition over traffic and more this week from a nearby neighborhood on the outskirts of Olympia.

Several residents of the adjacent San Mar Villas neighborhood, including State Rep. Sam Hunt (D-District 22), voiced opposition this week to Bayan Trails, a proposed development with 237 residential units, and the extra traffic that would come with it.

But Jay Sueno, manager of the proposed development, said his family is committed to low-impact development and being good stewards of the 20-acre wooded property.

In a letter to the city, Hunt was among those speaking against connecting the proposed development to San Mar via trail or road. Other criticisms include the late notification — or lack thereof — regarding the project last fall.

The neighborhood submitted a petition with 111 signatures seeking to appeal the city staff’s recommendations with respect to placement of a road or trail connecting Bayan Trails to San Mar Villas, said resident Brenda Hood. The petition also calls for reducing the proposed 35-foot-tall townhouses along the southern boundary to make them more in scale with the neighborhood.

The proposed development went before hearing examiner Mark Scheibmeir on Wednesday, and about 40 residents from San Mar packed the hearing at City Hall’s council chambers.

Safety, vandalism and parking were also concerns. Hood fears the development could bring more youths passing through the neighborhood and causing problems, and said more vehicles will try to bypass traffic on Sleater-Kinney Road by cutting through San Mar. She also foresees more vehicles parked along her neighborhood’s streets.

The Bayan Trails project is slated for two parcels, 607 and 709 Sleater-Kinney Road, across from North Thurston High School. The plan calls for four senior apartment buildings with 167 units, 10 townhome-style buildings with 70 units, a community building and a pool building

“We have 77 houses in our entire neighborhood. They’re putting 70 multifamily units right next to us,” Hood told The Olympian. “That’s going to double the amount of residents and kids and cars.”

The hearing examiner is expected to issue a decision — possibly in June — after the city and Sueno family attorney Jay Goldstein have submitted additional responses to each other’s comments.

“I feel like it was a good airing of the issues,” Goldstein told The Olympian. “We’re thankful that the proposal appears to meet all the city codes.” Click here to see a letter from the family in response to the San Mar neighborhood’s petition.

The Sueno family and its Golden Alon Development Co. are awaiting a decision from the city’s hearing examiner to determine when or if Bayan Trails can move forward.

The goal is to build the project in six phases over about 10 years. Three roads would be built through the site, including a westward extension of Sixth Avenue Northeast along the northern edge.

“We’re not a big outside developer with deep pockets,” Jay Sueno told the council, noting the plan to build the project in phases. “It is really important for us to keep this local and community-based and family-based.”

The word bayan means “community” in the Filipino-American family’s native language. Nena Sueno, the widow of Dr. Joseph Sueno, was joined by her adult children at the May 5 meeting of the Olympia City Council when the development agreement was approved.

“This special piece of property is very meaningful and personal to my family,” Sueno told the council, noting that her late husband’s dream was to build the project and leave a legacy with the parcel.

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