Public meeting with waterfront developer set for Tuesday

LANGLEY — Tighten your seatbelts and get ready for the second round of the waterfront development derby in Langley.

A public hearing has been scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Fellowship Hall, United Methodist Church, 301 Anthes Ave. in Langley.

Developer Brian Stowell will talk about a potential development on Wharf Street near Langley’s small boat h Jeff VanDerford / The Record

arbor, a topic that had the town buzzing ever since Mayor Neil Colburn first introduced the idea at a June city council meeting.

The Colorado-based developer hopes to quash some rumors concerning the project. News of Stowell’s proposed ideas for a waterfront development have collided with residents’ wishes to control building along Langley’s signature shoreline.

Stowell hopes to clear up some of the misconceptions about his project next week.

“There are a lot of myths associated with the project rather than facts,” Stowell said.

The precious views from Cascade Avenue are not at risk, he stressed again. And there has never been any talk about building above the street level.

Stowell will also introduce some of the ideas he has about the potential development that could reach as high as five stories from Wharf Street to the street level of Cascade Avenue.

“It will be mixed-use — office, retail and a restaurant with some level of residential,” he said.

While the development is a for-profit venture, the project is designed to help revitalize Langley’s waterfront.

“When we think of mixed-use, we consider what does it take to make a waterfront project viable year around,” Stowell added.

An elevator may be integrated in the project, connecting the marina level with Cascade Avenue. The idea has been hotly debated since Colburn first mentioned it at the city council meeting last month.

“It doesn’t seem ‘Langley’ to some people,” Stowell said. “Done right it could be an asset for all. It’s a design issue.”

Colburn said earlier that improved access to the waterfront would have overwhelming public benefit and has been a longtime goal for the city.

Stowell said this week that the elderly, disabled or even new moms with strollers could benefit from an elevator.

People will get a chance to ask Stowell questions and meet his team. Stowell said he expects his architects and representatives of the geotec company which analyzed the slope stability to be present at the meeting.

“It’s not just me. It’s the team I work with,” he said.

Stowell said he will talk about the outcome of an analysis of bluff bore samples and a hillside survey.

Stowell has gotten much feedback from the community since he introduced himself at the city council meeting on July 5.

A number of people have been encouraging, urging the company to be sensitive to the environment and Langley’s character. They’ve also said the waterfront really does need a facelift.

Meanwhile on the Langley Community Forum, a local online chat site, other residents continue to question the city’s and developer’s motivation for the project. One writer was concerned about the upkeep of an elevator and recalled how the elevator in the hillside village’s mini-mall in Sausalito, Calif. turned into a “drugging, urinating, graffiti-coated disaster in constant need of repair.”

Tuesday’s meeting will be a kick-off meeting in a series of three and will address the developer’s background, experience and current projects. It will also touch on important community values that should shape planning and design for Wharf Street, as well as public access and amenity concepts and considerations.

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