Lacey City Council set to consider 360-unit, 14-building apartment project

A major housing development is about to land in the laps of Lacey City Council on Thursday.

The council will be asked to approve a hearings examiner recommendation for Woodland Meadows, a 360-unit, 14-building market-rate apartment project on a parcel on 15th Avenue Northeast.

The project also includes 23 single-family homes, according to the voluminous public record for the project. The entire project will spread across 26 acres between 15th Avenue Northeast and Interstate 5.

Thursday’s City Council agenda item for Woodland Meadows has an attachment that is more than 800 pages of information about the steps taken to date and the requirements for it.

Lacey senior planner Samra Seymour said Wednesday that the project, if approved by the council, could get started by next spring. It is expected to be developed in three phases, she said. The development was pitched by a Vancouver, Wash.-based developer, Nouvelle Apartments LLC.

Although the hearings examiner is recommending approval of the project, it has quite a long list of requirements. Among them: impact fees to be paid to address changes in the area.

The fees include more than $500,000 to be paid to North Thurston Pubilc Schools, $365,000 to Thurston County to address traffic impacts to roads and intersections, and $75,000 to Lacey to address level-of-service upgrades at the intersection of Carpenter Road and Britton Parkway.

The Woodland Meadows application was deemed complete by the city a year ago, then went before the hearings examiner in April. That was followed by a hearings examiner ruling that the city disagreed with, Seymour said.

The differences between the city and applicant before the hearings examiner were tied to gated access to the development, and whether that would result in cars backing up on the street, she said.

The two sides later agreed on a gate that would be set back about 109 feet from 15th Avenue. “The gate would allow multiple cars to enter the site at once, further reducing the likelihood of backups at the entrance,” the public record reads.

As part of the public process, neighbors in the area were notified about the project and some replied to the city, concerned about an increase in traffic on 15th.

Molly Skinner and Daniel Sharp, who live near the proposed development site, shared their opposition in a letter to the city, which is attached to the public record.

“(This project) is set to undermine the primary reason we chose to live here,” they write. “We have lived in this area for more than 25 years and agree that it is depressing to see every piece of wooded land developed into an urban hell. Lacey is losing what little character it has left and is soon to be no different than any other developed city. Lacey should preserve its character, history and natural areas by saying no to big developments like (Woodland Meadows).”

Lacey City Council meets at 7 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 420 College St. SE.

Rolf has worked at The Olympian since August 2005. He covers breaking news, the city of Lacey and business for the paper. Rolf graduated from The Evergreen State College in 1990.