Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Plans for transit center still alive

Bellevue site proposal subject to City Council review


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Jason Miller

Although the Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission has verbally declined to amend the city’s zoning ordinance to allow a bus transportation center in the south part of the city, a proposal for the center by Mountain Rides Transportation Authority isn’t dead altogether.

Mountain Rides Executive Director Jason Miller said Tuesday that the P&Z, an advisory board to the City Council, still has to formalize its recommendation and submit it to the council for a final decision.

“There’s still some more processes at the city of Bellevue,” Miller said. “The City Council either needs to affirm that decision or they could go against that decision.”

The P&Z’s verbal decision came at the conclusion of a public hearing on the proposed ordinance change Thursday night, when public sentiment seemed against the idea.

Miller said he was disappointed that more of Mountain Rides’ regular users didn’t attend the hearing, noting that about 30 of them submitted written comments in support of the proposal.

“I was surprised that we didn’t have more of those folks show up,” he said. “The written comments were positive and the verbal comments were negative.”

Building a south valley transportation center has been a priority for Mountain Rides for several years. If built, the center would provide a facility to maintain and house Mountain Rides buses, a waiting area for northbound passengers, an administrative office and storage space, and a park and ride for commuters.

In September, Mountain Rides made a $780,000 offer to property owner Gannet 75 LLC for a 2.97-acre parcel, including a two-story building, near the intersection of Gannett Road and state Highway 75. That offer, however, was contingent upon the property owner’s obtaining a language change in the Bellevue zoning ordinance to allow it to be used for a transportation center.

One way or another, Miller said, Mountain Rides still needs a south valley transit center, having outgrown a rented location on south Woodside Boulevard that only allows indoor housing for two buses.

“Absolutely it’s a need for us,” Miller said. “It’s an important facility that we have to develop somewhere, if not in Bellevue then in Hailey.”

Mountain Rides has $1 million set aside for the project, with $800,000 provided by a grant from the Federal Transportation Authority and the remainder in local matching funds.

Miller said the grant may not be affected if Mountain Rides has to find a new location, but that he would have to discuss changes to the plan with the federal agency.

He said that if the south Bellevue proposal doesn’t go through, he’ll have to go back to the Mountain Rides board of directors for a decision on a next move.

“It would be a big step back for us,” he said. “But it’s really a board decision.”


Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com

 




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