Analysis of the Comprehensive Plan & Houghton Neighborhood Plan
The City of Kirkland Comprehensive Plan outlines goals and standards for the Northwest University master plan update. Several public comments from the initial NU Open House referenced the City of Kirkland Comprehensive Plan and specifically, the Houghton Neighborhood Plan. Questions were raised regarding how the proposed NU Master Plan Update incorporates the goals outlined in the Comprehensive Plan documents. Below is a summary of the relevant Comprehensive Plan Goals along with how NU is responding to each specific goal with the proposed Master Plan update.
The vision statement is a verbal description of the character and qualities of the Central Houghton Neighborhood at a future time when the goals and policy direction expressed in this neighborhood plan are realized.
“Several schools and the Northwest University campus add to the Central Houghton community by providing neighborhood residents with a connection to the schools’ students, parents, and facilities, as well as with residents of other Kirkland neighborhoods and the larger community. These campuses are valued and supported, not only for their role in providing educational opportunities and fostering community relationships, but for the additional open space they provide and share with the neighborhood.”
NU Comment: NU honors and respects this valued and supported position in the community and is endeavoring with this Master Plan updated to continue to be a good neighbor and a resource to the community. Sharing the open space on campus with the neighbors is a long respected tradition. In fact, the intent of clustering the proposed buildings is rooted in preserving as much open space on campus as possible while still providing the improvements necessary to the success and future of the University.
Policy CH-8.1: Provide opportunities for early community involvement in any expansion plans for, modifications to, or changes in uses within schools and places of worship.
“Early community involvement is important in addressing issues that may affect the surrounding area and the neighborhood as a whole. Issues such as parking and public safety should be taken into account when considering additional ancillary uses, expansion of facilities, or the addition of new facilities. Required buffering should be designed to minimize impacts to and be compatible with neighboring uses.”
NU Comment: Northwest University is committed to a robust and thorough dialog with all of the constituents of the Master Plan update. A summary of these efforts include the following:
- Targeted meetings have been held with key stakeholders including Kirkland Children's School and Seventh Day Adventist Academy leaders joint meeting, LWSD Emerson Campus leaders, Lake Washington Youth Soccer Association (LWYSA) leaders, Lake Washington Lacrosse association leaders, Boys and Girls Club of Kirkland program director, Eastside Preparatory Academy leaders, and a presentation at the Central Houghton Neighborhood Association monthly meeting.
- Multiple meetings with neighbors who live on the north boundary of the University
- A website for the Master Plan has been established providing easy access to all NU materials: https://www.northwestu.edu/master-plan/
- NU hosted Open Houses on March 30 and May 9
- 7,500 direct mail postcard invitations were sent to households in the Houghton Community Council boundary for the March 30 and May 9 NU Hosted Open Houses.
- 60 yard signs were posted to announce each Open House
- 2 press releases were sent to Kirkland area media announcing the Open Houses with stories being published for each.
- An email address, email@example.com, was established and promoted on all public materials for on-going receipt of comments.
Please see Appendix A: Publish Outreach and Response Summary as well as the separate report titled "Public Outreach and Response Report" that details all of the community involvement and outreach conducted prior to submitting the master plan update to the City of Kirkland.
Northwest University (Planned Area 1)
“The planned area designation permits the application of special development procedures and standards to minimize adverse impacts resulting from the natural growth and operation of the facility.”
NU Comment: The Master Plan update is necessary for the natural growth and operation of the University. NU shares the goal of minimizing the adverse impacts to the community and neighbors while understanding that adverse impacts may occur, every effort is being made to minimize them.
Policy CH-9.3: Structures on campus should be located to minimize impacts on single-family residential areas adjacent to the University.
It is important to consider the location of new buildings on campus in relationship to the surrounding single-family residential areas. New structures should be placed far enough away from single-family residential uses to minimize impacts.
NU Comment: The proposed Master Plan structures are all located 80’ or more from the PLA 1 boundary that immediately borders Residential properties, well in excess of the minimum 30’ buffer currently adopted. All of the proposed structures are located more than 90’ away from the nearest Southern residential property line and the entire frontage of the proposed structures on the South is on a public right of way and not on residential properties. The proposed Tennis Center, Pavilion and Fitness Center structures are clustered in the Southwest corner of the campus, adjacent to other institutional uses and non-residential uses to minimize the impact on immediate residential neighbors.
Additionally, the frontage of the proposed Tennis Center along NE 53rd Street is proposed to incorporate a rain garden and additional plantings to buffer and soften the campus edge, minimizing the impact to residential properties. The other proposed structures such as the Welcome Center, Residence Hall and Field House are all located interior to the campus and minimize impact to residential uses as much as feasible.
Policy CH-9.4: Traffic should be routed away from local residential streets to the extent possible.
Traffic routing can have a great impact on the surrounding neighborhood. Primary access to the University should continue to be off of 108th Avenue NE.
NU Comment: The primary access remains off of 108th Ave. Both the Comprehensive Plan and all of the Cities street documentation designate NE 53rd Street as a Collector Street and not as a Neighborhood Access Street. Existing access points to NE 53rd are proposed to remain and 111th Way NE is proposed to be realigned.
Policy CH-9.5: University activities should be buffered on all sides to protect adjacent single-family residential development.
The university should be buffered from surrounding areas to reduce visual and noise impacts and protect the privacy of those living within the surrounding single-family neighborhood.
NU Comment: Buffering has been and continues to be included in the Master Plan for all single family and residential properties. A reduced buffer is proposed between the Puget Sound Adventist Academy property.
When locating institutional and commercial uses adjacent to residential areas, techniques should be used to minimize impacts on adjacent residential areas such as ensuring there is adequate parking on neighborhood streets for residents and businesses, minimizing noise in evening hours, and minimizing glare from commercial lighting.
NU Comment: Northwest University respects the residential context of the campus. 30’ buffers are proposed to continue at all residential areas. Additional on-campus parking is proposed to accommodate the increased parking demand (a detailed parking analysis is provided in the DRAFT Traffic Impact Analysis prepared by Transpo Group, NU’s traffic engineering consultant), buffers are proposed to be maintained in areas of increased noise at the play fields and the proposed field lighting (for the southern field only) is state of the art LED lighting with high cut-off ratios that will minimize glare on adjacent properties. Additionally, field lighting is proposed to be turned off by 9:30 PM. For additional information, see the discussion Shared Use of Athletic Fields on page 37.
Open Space and Parks
B.E.S.T. High School is on a 10-acre site and is part of the Lake Washington School District (LWSD). The City has constructed and maintains a multipurpose playfield at B.E.S.T. High School through an interlocal agreement with LWSD. The playfield is available for both organized and informal sports activities such as baseball/softball, soccer, and football. A small gymnasium at the school is also available on a limited basis for community recreation programming, with scheduling and use dictated by LWSD.
NU Comment: Northwest University is in discussions with the City of Kirkland for similar use agreements for the play fields and the proposed athletic facilities.
Policy CH-13.1: Pursue acquisition of property and partnerships with schools and other institutions in Central Houghton.
The City should seek opportunities to acquire land to expand parks as properties adjacent to existing parks become available. It is also important to provide and maintain a diversity of park recreation types for the neighborhood. The City should pursue cooperative agreements for joint use of the facilities at schools and other institutions. In addition, street ends should be developed and expanded into park and open space areas for public enjoyment.
NU Comment: In the current Master Plan update, Northwest University proposes to add shared use of the play fields so that a cooperative agreement for joint use of the facilities may be possible. Under the current Master Plan, these types of agreements and joint use are prohibited. Granting approval to the non-exclusive NU use of the fields will achieve this policy goal.
Policy CH-14.1: Undergrounding of overhead utilities should be actively encouraged.
In order to contribute to a more attractive and safe living environment, to improve views and enhance a sense of community identity, the undergrounding of utilities should be actively encouraged.
NU Comment: In association with the construction of the Tennis Facility, Northwest University proposes to include undergrounding the existing overhead power lines and utilities along NE 53rd street from the existing power pole just west of the Chapel parking entrance to the power pole located just west of the NU/SDA property boundary, approximately 785’ in length.
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