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SEATTLE-The University of Washington gained a lot more leasing freedom this week when the city council here approved amendments to its 1998 agreement with the University of Washington regulating the school’s leasing activity surrounding its main campus. The council lifted long-standing square footage restrictions last year, but on appeal it was determined the council did not follow proper procedure and needed to begin the process anew. The amendments approved this week again remove the lid but the agreement continues to restrict the university from leasing ground-level space in pedestrian overlay zones and from leasing in residential zones for non-residential uses. One of the approved amendments also prohibits the university from leasing or acquiring the former Batelle property east of the campus in the Laurelhurst neighborhood because of its location in a residential zone, a council spokesperson told GlobeSt.com prior to the vote. Another amendment requires the university to focus no less than 75% of its leasing activity to areas immediately west of its campus in the University District.The UW has been limited in how much space it could lease surrounding its campus since 1985 as part of an attempt to quell concerns about the university’s expansion into the neighboring community. Originally, the limit was 241,950 sf. The restriction was expanded to 400,000 sf in 1991 and then to 550,000 sf in 1998. In June 2003, by a 6 to 3 vote, the city council lifted the lid, thereby allowing the university to lease an unlimited amount of space in the neighboring University District. In September 2003, eight community organizations appealed the adoption of the ordinance to the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board, alleging that it violated Growth Management Act goals and requirements relative to public notice, public participation, and internal plan consistency. Without ruling on plan consistency, the board found that passage of the ordinance lifting the lease lid failed to comply with the GMA’s public notice and public participation requirements. The board remanded the ordinance to the city and directed that legislative action be taken to bring it into compliance with the goals and requirements of the Growth Management Act by no later than Aug. 30. The city later obtained an deadline extension to Dec. 2.

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