continued In the meantime, e-mails began flying back and forth among concerned Kensington residents. People who have finally seen the mitigated negative declaration say the project will make available 8000 square feet for a supermarket, 3000 for restaurant space, and 5500 for additional retail space. Many of the e-mails came to the attention of Allard Jansen, who wrote back that he would hold a public meeting on November 1 at the Kensington Community Church to explain his project.
I listened to Jansen give a smooth presentation to the huge crowd that filled the church's sanctuary. He touched on numerous points, among them an odd zoning division of the property; half has a 30-foot height limit and half has a 50-foot limit.Jansen said he wanted to keep the height of the building as low as possible. Still, he needed 38 feet. He would stay at 38 feet, he told the audience, but if he couldn't get a variance on one side, he would have to go to 50 feet on the other. As for following the City's rules and community notification, he was sure everything had been done properly. Before the meeting started, a Kensington-Talmadge Planning Committee spokesman said the night's meeting wouldn't have been necessary if residents would come to the meetings or become committee members.
Jansen also noted that, in their e-mails, community members were throwing around an incorrect number of "average daily trips" from traffic that his project would bring into Kensington. The correct number was 1400 instead of 2400. People didn't realize, he said, that 1000 daily trips already brought in by the gas station would have to be subtracted.
According to Maggie McCann, however, the traffic study was flawed. "Part of their calculation," she tells me, "involved an assumption that the convenience store in the gas station is 650 square feet. But we went in and measured it at 7 feet by 11. So the number of people going into the store is not nearly what they say. And the station's own figures show that only about 200 people go in to buy gas each day.
"Then the study didn't even do what they announced it would. It did not look at the whole stretch of Adams between I-15 and Aldine Drive, nor at the impacts on the streets to the north and south of Adams." One of Jansen's bragging points, McCann continues, was that visitors to Kensington Terrace would enter from an alley in the back. "Residents are now concerned," she says, "that drivers leaving the alley will see how much traffic is going out to Adams and will circulate through neighborhood streets to leave the area. This factor alone shows that the project should be required to produce an environmental impact report."
In his e-mail to city project manager Anne Jarque, Jim Chatfield brought up additional worries. Here is one. "The project," he wrote, "is significantly over-parked at one space per bedroom for the residential and 2.1 per 1000 square feet of commercial. This leads one to believe that the developer is vying for regional serving retail and/or will eventually combine all the parking to serve a 'big box' retailer or grocer. [In regard to] the residential portion of the project...I seldom see this amount of parking even in vehicle dependent suburban projects.
"If I can be of any help in finding a solution that better serves the community of Kensington," concluded Chatfield, "I would be happy to assist." He may get that chance. At last Thursday's Planning Commission meeting, the Kensington Terrace hearing was continued for a week. And the commission gave the parties homework. Meet before you come back -- and iron out some of your differences.