Bellevue, Main Street, Winter

A new zoning overlay would allow high-density apartments along Bellevue's Main Street. 

The Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday resolved to support and expand upon a proposed multi-family overlay district that would allow for apartment buildings in the city’s downtown core.

The proposed “Business Core Residential Overlay District” would allow for an unlimited number of housing units per acre, as small as 350 square feet in size, so long as the plan includes adequate onsite parking, snow storage, landscaping and open space.

The proposed overlay district would extend along Main Street between Cedar and Chestnut streets—the entire length of Bellevue’s original townsite.

“We had 100% support of all P&Z members to move forward on this,” said P&Z Chair John Kurtz. “One topic we didn’t get to is whether or not we can restrict these units from becoming short term rentals.”

In July, the P&Z Commission had approved apartments down to 550 square feet in size. But last week, it took advice from developer Gary Poole Thursday to reduce the minimum size to 350 square feet, based on his recent experience building new apartments on River Street in Hailey.

The P&Z Commission also recommended that the overlay allow for increased building height restrictions from 40 to 45 feet, for housing developments only, to accommodate covered first floor parking in building designs.

In addition, the P&Z Commission supported a plan to allow for more housing in the General Residential Zone—where current zoning allows for maximum housing density of one duplex on a 6,000 square foot lot—provided the property is being developed by ARCH Community Housing Trust, Habitat for Humanity, or another housing agency. Changes discussed Thursday would eliminate the housing agency requirement and the restriction of one unit per 3,000 square feet.

Community Development Director Diane Shay said staff would formalize the proposed changes for review at a continued public hearing on Sept. 7. She said further discussions would take place at that time.

“The devil will be in the details,” she said.

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