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Originally published Monday, January 30, 2012 at 6:51 PM

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Corrected version

6-story building heights OK'd near Seattle's Roosevelt High

The Seattle City Council gave the OK Monday for six-story buildings across from Roosevelt High School.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The Seattle City Council on Monday approved six-story building heights across from historic Roosevelt High School as part of a larger rezone package designed to add density around a future light-rail stop.

An attempt by Councilmember Nick Licata to delay the vote two weeks to allow Roosevelt neighbors more time to reach an agreement with a property developer failed 6-3, with the majority of the council saying the neighborhood's concerns had largely been incorporated into the final legislation.

"Neighborhood planning does not mean the council does whatever it hears from the neighborhood. We cannot abdicate our point of view in representing the entire city," said Councilmember Richard Conlin.

The council approved the legislation 7-2, with Councilmembers Bruce Harrell and Jean Godden voting no. Licata joined the majority for the final vote, saying he wanted to continue to work with the neighborhood.

The rezone package encompasses about 40 blocks and concentrates density around Roosevelt's commercial core and the planned Sound Transit Station on 12th Avenue Northeast between Northeast 65th and 67th streets. Buildings up to 85 feet high would be allowed in those areas and some blocks near Interstate 5.

In exchange for the increased density, many in the neighborhood sought to limit heights across from Roosevelt High School to 40 feet to preserve views of and from the 1922 landmark.

Several speakers at Monday's City Council hearing asked for two additional weeks to give the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association time to negotiate a memorandum of understanding with the Roosevelt Development Group, the property developer of the three blocks south of the high school.

Andrew Miller, land-use chair of the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association, said that without a memorandum of understanding, the developers have no incentive to continue to work with the neighborhood.

"Why should they sign something when you're going to give them everything they want?" he asked the council.

Ravenna resident Woody Wheeler said the proposed 65-foot development would present a wall to the adjacent residential blocks and is "out of scale and out of touch with the neighborhood."

Ed Hewson, of the Roosevelt Development Group, pledged to continue to work with the neighborhood. But, he told the council, "a few people will not be happy and could hold us up forever. That's more risk than we have a desire to take on."

The council majority said 65-foot-buildings would allow for more design flexibility and make it possible for more people, including families, to live near the light-rail station.

The city imposed several conditions on development in the high-school blocks, including underground parking, wide sidewalks and extensive landscaping.

The final projects are subject to the city's design-review process, which allows the public to comment on proposed multifamily development and how it would fit into the surrounding neighborhood.

Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or lthompson@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @lthompsontimes.

Information in this article, originally published Jan 30, 2012, was corrected Jan. 31, 2012. A previous version of this story gave an incorrect name for Woody Wheeler.

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