City Issues Decision Regarding Environmental Impacts Of MICA Proposal
Sept 11, 2017 - Today the City of Mercer Island’s Development Services Group (DSG) released a decision regarding its review of the potential environmental impacts of a proposed performing arts facility located next to the downtown business district in Mercerdale Park. This State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Determination of Non-Significance with Mitigation for the proposed Mercer Island Center for the Arts (MICA) project found that there are expected to be some environmental impacts from the project as proposed, which can be adequately mitigated through alterations to the proposal. The decision was transmitted to a variety of stakeholders and interested residents who had previously commented on the proposal.
This SEPA determination is the first of a number of City actions needed for the proposed MICA project to continue and is limited to: (1) a proposed zoning code text amendment application to allow a performing arts facility to be located in Mercerdale Park, and that would allow parking for such a facility to be located off-site; and (2) an “agreement to lease” between the City of Mercer Island and MICA.
Other land use actions, such as a subdivision, critical area determination and construction permits, will need to be submitted and reviewed as part of the City’s customary review process for large projects. These land use actions will also require their own SEPA environmental review, but the timing has not yet been established.
In addition, the City announced today a schedule for formal review of the requested zoning code text amendment. The City’s Planning Commission will conduct an initial evaluation at its October 4 meeting, and will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, after which it will ultimately make a recommendation to the City Council. Both Planning Commission meetings will be held at Mercer Island City Hall beginning at 6:00pm.
For full documentation underlying this SEPA determination, please visit the City’s online permitting archive for the MICA proposal: https://mieplan.mercergov.org/public/MICA-SEP16-015_ZTR16-002
History of the MICA Proposal (not exhaustive)
- In November 2013, project proponents approached the City informally with an initial proposal for a private-public partnership to locate a privately-funded performance arts facility on City property, and the City Council began an exploration of potential City-owned sites. Promoters identified the well-known Youth Theater Northwest as the primary tenant; in 2014, the group would lose its 30-year home on School District land for construction of a new elementary school.
- By mid-2014 proponents had formed an official 501(c)(3) non-profit entity to design the facility, develop the proposal, and conduct fundraising activities.
- At its November 15, 2015, and January 19, 2016 regular meetings, the City Council discussed the components of a potential ground lease for the MICA facility.
- On February 22, 2016, Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that enabled MICA to undertake the SEPA review process. Following that meeting, project opponents filed an initiative that sought to prevent various special uses of City parkland but were unsuccessful in collecting the 3,000 signatures necessary to bring the measure to a public vote.
- In mid-2016 the footprint of the project was redesigned to avoid placing any structures on an existing wetland identified at the edge of Mercerdale Park.
- In late 2016 the SEPA review process (the subject of this news release) began.
For more information about the permit process, please visit the City’s webpage related to the proposed MICA project at: www.mercergov.org/MICA, or contact Senior Planner Robin Proebsting at email@example.com