The original site of the recycling center and the adjacent NW planting area was known to be a wet location. It was anticipated that the toe of the slope to the west of the MICA site would have drainage issues. MICA commissioned a geotechnical survey in February 2015 by Hart Crowser, a well-respected environmental engineering firm, that confirmed the poor soils on the site. Accordingly, geotechnical and structural engineers told MICA that the building foundation will require a system of augur-cast pilings.
To better understand the hydrology of the site, MICA contracted with The Watershed Company in May 2015 to do a wetland survey. The Watershed Company classified the finger of wetland on the site as a Category III, meaning it was of relatively low hydrological and ecological significance. MICA was aware that the 1500 square foot wetland area on the site would be within the current City code’s 2500 square foot threshold allowing mitigation of Category III wetlands. However, Watershed’s analysis found that the small finger of wetland on the proposed MICA site connected with a larger, two-acre wetland to the south. Under the existing code, even though MICA’s construction would only affect 1500 square feet, the finger was considered a two-acre wetland. After consulting with independent legal counsel and several developers familiar with development involving critical areas, MICA learned that the process for mitigating this 1.7% of a two-acre total wetland with a higher-quality wetland would require a change of the City code and involve the State Department of Ecology and the Army Corps of Engineers.
After much analysis, the redesign of the building to avoid wetlands completely, while preserving the programmatic needs, emerged as the most viable option among several considered and evaluated and that is the way MICA decided to proceed.