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Housing development proposal has neighbors worried

Helen Pacheco and Lucky use one of the informal trails that snakes through the Tiffany Park neighborhood and could be threatened by a housing development. - Brian Beckley, Renton Reporter
Helen Pacheco and Lucky use one of the informal trails that snakes through the Tiffany Park neighborhood and could be threatened by a housing development.
— image credit: Brian Beckley, Renton Reporter

Every day Helen Pacheco takes to the informal trail system that runs throughout her neighborhood to get a little fresh air and some exercise.

With her golden retriever Lucky or with her daughter, Pacheco estimates that she walks about six miles each day, starting from her Ponderosa Estates home and wandering through the large patch of green space that sits in the center of her neighborhood.

But the trails on which Pacheco and hundreds of her neighbors walk every day are not part of the formal, city trails and parks system and the 21-acre piece of land has been sold and is set to host up to 98 homes in the near future, if developers have their way.

“It’s a crying shame,” Pacheco said this week.

Located near Tiffany Park Elementary School in the Benson Hill Neighborhood and formerly owned by the Renton School District and bordered on two sides by a pair of pipelines, the tract of land is a spot of green in the neighborhood, but a November application from Henley Homes to build a new housing development is currently working its way through the city and neighbors are fighting to keep it from being turned into homes.

“The community has several concerns,” said City of Renton Senior Planner Rocale Timmons.

According to Timmons, a recent neighborhood meeting about the proposal drew a large number of comments from the community, with many residents concerned about an increase in traffic in their neighborhood as well as the  proposal’s call to clear approximately 1,300 trees from a property that Timmons said residents use as a “pseudo park.”

“All those trees would come down,” she said, adding that the Benson Hill area lacks in parks, according to the Benson Hill Community Plan.

“It’s a travesty to lose these woods,” said Renate Beedon, a Tiffany Park resident

who has taken one of the lead roles in speaking against the project.

Beedon said the residents have built the series of trails that criss-cross the woods and use those, as well as the pipeline right-of-ways, to do some walking, as well as get around their neighborhood.

The patch of green space provides a bit of peace for the neighborhood and its residents.

“People go in there just to watch birds,” she said.

Residents are also concerned that adding 98 homes to an area with only two access points, both of which run through the neighborhood, could bring a dangerous level of traffic to the area.

“The traffic is going to be a major, major problem,” Beedon said this week.  “It’s going to be a nightmare for the neighbors there.”

Beedon also said she was concerned the parcel contained more wetlands than previously thought.

In response to concerns from residents, as well as some of their own, the city placed a hold on the plans for the development and have requested additional traffic and wetlands studies as well as a habitat report.The developer, Henley Homes, has up to six months to provide the additional studies and there will be a second comment period once they are received.

“We’re waiting for that information to come back,” Timmons said.

Resident of the area are hoping the additional studies show that the land is not viable for so many homes and that the developer will decide to leave the land a natural, wooded area.

“When it’s gone, it’s gone,” Beedon said.

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