Building permits issued for new YWCA at Passage Point
October 28, 2008
By Chantelle Lusebrink
Building permits for remodeling and construction work have been approved for the new YWCA facility at the former Cedar Hills Alcohol Treatment CenterThe county’s Development and Environmental Services department issued the building permits Oct. 10 for the YWCA’s Passage Point facility, on the former alcohol treatment site and within miles of several rural Issaquah housing neighborhoods.
A meeting about the facility was held Oct. 20 at Maple Hills Elementary School to share the updated news on the project and answer questions from the Issaquah and Maple Valley communities.
“Some were very familiar with the project while others were seeing it for the first time,” said Linda Rasmussen, the YWCA’s South King County regional director. “It was mainly another opportunity to look at the overall site plan and talk to the community.”
The permits allow YWCA officials to remodel the facility into 46 one- and two-bedroom apartments to provide housing, employment and counseling services to men and women who have recently been released from incarceration or hospitalization, or who are homeless, and wish to reunite with and act as caregivers to their children.
“We have the go-ahead to begin the process of rehabilitating the facility and the next step is to enter into the bid process and make a selection for a company to build the project,” Rasmussen said. “We hope to begin work this winter.”
Still, not everyone is thrilled about the new facility.
The Cedar Hills Rural Preservation Alliance has an active lawsuit against the county regarding the project because it authorized a nonconforming use permit to develop a dense urban housing project in an area the county has zoned as rural.
The alliance is made up of individual property owners in the Four Lakes, Cedar Hills and Cedar Mountain neighborhoods, communities bordering the future Passage Point site.
The group filed the complaint in Snohomish County Superior Court in November 2007 to challenge the lawfulness of the County Council’s decision to provide easements to and sell the facility to the YWCA.
The suit had been on hold, but the issuance of permits by county officials has brought it to the forefront again. The group has 21 days to file an amended appeal to challenge the lawfulness of the county’s decision.
The group’s attorney will file that appeal by the end of the week, said Sean Kronberg, an alliance official.
“I still cannot understand how low-income apartments can be allowed to be located in rural King County, on property zoned RA-10, so far away from urban services, including public transportation, jobs, grocery stores and other services needed by low-income families,” Kronberg wrote in an update to fellow members. “County policies do not support it and zoning laws do not allow it. YWCA is attempting to use a special use permit granted to the CHAT facility over 40 years ago instead of applying for a new conditional use permit.”
“We want to keep moving along and continuing,” Rasmussen said. “The lawsuit is not against the YWCA and we need to keep an eye on what we need to do since we have money we are responsible for.”
Parents of children at Maple Hills Elementary, where children staying at Passage Point would go, have expressed concern for their children’s educational resources and the need for additional mental health and educational funding for the students at the facility.
School board members and district officials have been working with local legislators and other state education officials to obtain more money to fill the needs of Passage Point children.
Other property owners living in the Four Lakes area have expressed concern about property values, safety and security of themselves and women staying at the facility.
Construction of the 46 units is the first phase. Another 24 units would be added in a second phase, which would bring additional services to the facility.
Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or firstname.lastname@example.org.