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A new overlay district could allow for considerably more housing in downtown Bellevue.

The Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission will consider today a city-initiated text amendment to the Bellevue building code’s bulk requirements that would increase building sizes from 28,000 to 36,000 square feet. The public hearing will take place virtually by Zoom at city hall.

The proposed changes would be applied to the General Residential, Business and the Light Industrial/Mixed Business Zones. The P&Z Commission will also consider deleting Chapter 16, which requires “Large-Scale Development” conditional use permits, in its entirety.

The city currently allows a maximum building footprint of 28,000 square feet, but only if for a building project that first acquires a conditional use permit though a large-scale development (LSD) process.

“The process to acquire an LSD is extremely cumbersome and has caused several developers to look elsewhere for their large projects,” states a memo from the Community Development Department.

The memo states that the commission might also consider further expanding the maximum allowable size for a building if an element of workforce housing is proposed for the project.

Recently, P&Z approved sweeping changes to city code that would allow for an unlimited number of housing units per acre in a new “Business Core Residential Overlay District,” with units as small as 350 square feet in size. The proposed overlay district would extend along Main Street between Cedar and Chestnut streets—the entire length of Bellevue’s original townsite. The city has not indicated if there are any ways to restrict to new housing units for long-term rental, or if they could also be used for short term AirBnB-style rentals instead.

Both proposals would need approval from the Bellevue City Council to become law.

For full coverage stay tuned to the Idaho Mountain Express.

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