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Second hearing set for controversial Edgecliff development

The second of three pubic hearings on Langley Passage, a controversial 20-home development in Langley’s Edgecliff neighborhood, will be next week.

The hearing will be a continuation of a crowded and vocal session this past month before the city’s Planning Advisory Board on the project’s preliminary plat.

The next PAB hearing will be at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 14 in the Brookhaven community room, on Third Street behind the city’s former fire station.

A third hearing to consider environmental appeals against the project is expected to be at the PAB’s next regular meeting on Wednesday, April 28. A firm date will be set at next week’s hearing, said city planning director Larry Cort.

A fourth PAB hearing might also be scheduled, he said.

After the hearings, the board’s recommendation will be forwarded to the city council, unless there is an appeal.

“If that happens, there would be a slight delay,” Cort said. “There won’t be an immediate pass-off to the council.”

Worse-case, the council will begin its consideration of the project within two months, he predicted.

The city’s planning staff is recommending approval of the project, maintaining that it fits with Langley’s zoning and more than meets the requirements for residential development.

The project, first proposed in 2006 by Whidbey Neighborhood Partners, would be built on 8.5 acres between Edgecliff Drive and Sandy Point Road.

Managing partner for the development is Gary Roth, owner of the Roth Co. of Freeland, which specializes in building custom homes.

The plan is for 20 “affordable” one- and two-story houses built along a private road. Target buyers would be recent retirees, Roth said.

Most of the houses would be three-bedroom, and in the $350,000 to $500,000 price range. They would feature green construction including rain gardens, with open space set aside and trees preserved.

Roth said earlier that if the project is approved by the city, construction could begin as early as June, with road, water and sewer systems in by the end of summer and construction of houses begun in the fall.

The project has drawn steady opposition from two local action groups concerned about its environmental effects, especially drainage issues involving a potentially overloaded outfall, the wetland at the north end of the property, the stability of the bluff and the water table.

Appeals were filed by the eco-watchdog group Whidbey Environmental Action Network and the Langley Critical Areas Alliance, an organization made up of Edgecliff neighbors and other Langley residents.

Although the proposed development is within an area of the city included in a moratorium on subdivisions, its application was filed before the moratorium went into effect in June 2007, and so is exempt from the restriction.

The city council this week voted to terminate the moratorium, which had been extended three times.

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