City blocks environmental report in land use appeal

  • Appellants planned to use report in Conner-Jarvis case.
  • Conflict of interest with City contract cited.
  • Same environmental consultant allowed for applicant in Chestnut Estates West case.
  • Conner-Jarvis appellant charged City would withdraw traffic mitigation plans if project appealed.
  • Similar neighborhood traffic concerns to Chestnut appeal, which the City lost.
  • Links to download documents are toward the bottom of this post.

The Sammamish City Manager blocked an environmental consulting company from being a witness at a land use appeal of the Conner-Jarvis development, and with it, the report the company prepared, charges Mike Grady of the appellant, the Kempton Downs Community Organization.

Grady charged that City Manager Ben Yacizi invoked a clause in the consultant’s City contract for services unrelated to the appeal that says the firm, The Watershed Company, can’t undertake work that in conflict with the City.

Watershed was allowed to be a consultant and expert witness on behalf of the William Buchan Co. in the Chestnut Estates West application, says Grady. The City’s Hearing Examiner threw out the application, handing a victory to the appellants. Buchan told the Sammamish Reporter it plans to appeal the decision this month.

Wetlands weren’t properly assessed, Watershed says

Conner Jarvis Layout 072015

The layout of the proposed Conner-Jarvis development of 115 single family homes on 40+ acres. Click on image to enlarge. The handwritten notes are from the person who supplied this rendering to Sammamish Comment.

Sammamish Comment obtained a copy of the Watershed report in the Conner-Jarvis case. The report concluded:

  • that the wetland boundaries were misidentified by Conner’s consultant;
  • the potential effects of the “water flow processes” that sustain Laughing Jabos Creek and the wetland ecosystem were not adequately characterized; and
  • the wetland complex should be rated as a single unit rather than separate wetlands.

Some of the issues between Chestnut and Conner are similar: the threat to kokanee salmon from upstream runoff. Kokanee are native to Lake Sammamish and to three creeks: Ebright Creek, which was the relevant creek in the Chestnut case and about half way up the lake; Lewis Creek at the far south end of the lake; and Laughing Jacobs Creek, which is relevant in the Conner case, which is in between Lewis and Ebright.

Hearing Examiner John Galt held a session Monday morning whether to admit the report despite the City’s exclusion. Galt denied a request to enter the report into the record, but gave the appellant until Oct. 28 to come up with a new report.

115 homes proposed

The Conner-Jarvis development is for 115 single family homes in what’s known to

Scot Jarvis

Sammamish old-timers as the Jarvis compound. This is 40+ acres bounded by Issaquah-Pine Lake, SE 42nd Way and roughly the Kempton Downs subdivision to the West. There is a long fence along Issaquah-Pine Lake Road. Three generations of the Jarvis family live there. The parents, Pete and Sally Jarvis, were a judge and real estate developer respectively. Scot Jarvis was the chairman of the City’s first Planning Commission. He is an investor in Kent Center and in other industries.

Jarvis served on the City’s Planning Commission for four years (including two as chairman). Zoning for the Jarvis compound was inherited from King County and during his term on the Commission, no issues arose concerning the compound. While on the Planning Commission, Jarvis established a record of environmental sensitivity. His home and horse barn, along the Issaquah-Pine Lake Road, included a number of environmentally sensitive building and heating techniques.

Watershed’s ties to the City

Watershed was founded by environmentalist Bill Way, who lives along the Lake Sammamish waterfront. Way and his wife Nancy over the years, since Sammamish became a City, held fund raising events for several candidates, including Mark Cross and Kathy Huckabay. Huckabay is Deputy Mayor, elected two years ago after a four year break following eight years on the Council. Cross is running for election this year after a similar four year break following eight years on the Council. So far, they haven’t endorsed Cross, based on a review of Cross’s website Aug. 2. In the current election, they endorsed Mayor Tom Vance for reelection.

But Watershed’s ties to the City go beyond those with Council members. Watershed has a consulting contract with the City that long predates the Conner-Jarvis appeal. But it is worth noting that Watershed served as a consultant to Buchan, the applicant in the Chestnut case and the City didn’t object.

It’s understood that Watershed’s contract with Buchan predated the contract with the City.

According to an email by the attorney for the appellants, Watershed withdrew from the Conner-Jarvis appellants as a “business decision,” but in fact, the withdrawal may be simpler than that. It is not at all unusual for clients to conflict out their consultants. Lawyers routinely run Conflict Checks and consultant contracts often include non-compete clauses.

The Watershed Report, which now won’t be entered into evidence at the appeal, is here: Watershed Company Conner Jarvis

Saving Kokanee

Wally Pereyra, a member of the Kokanee Work Group, said the KWG submitted a comment on the Conner application urging further study in order to protect the kokanee.

City Council Member Tom Odell is a member of the Kokanee Work Group.

The Kokanee Work Group’s letter is here: KWG Conner Jarvis Comment Letter

Alleged threats made to Kempton Downs residents

Grady, of the Kempton Downs organization, told Sammamish Comment that in a “May meeting with Yazici and Laura Philpot [then a deputy city manager] I was told (in the presence of a witness)……the City was suggesting numerous methods to ameliorate traffic through Kempton Downs….speed bump, stop signs, etc……we were then told: “…if you file an appeal….all offers are off the table.”

“Ben Yazici and Laura Philpot were invited and Mike Harris (Kempton Downs HOA President) and I attended,” Grady wrote Sammamish Comment.

“We asked many questions and discussed ways to ameliorate the increased traffic flow through both Kempton Downs and Sammamish Highlands [two adjacent subdivisions; Sammamish Highlands is not to be confused with the Safeway supermarket complex that goes by the same name–Editor]. It is and was well known that this diversion will occur. The traffic on to Issaquah-Pine Lake Road (including the roundabout by the fire station) discourages drivers from taking those routes….adding 100 homes (two cars per home) will divert (estimated by the City traffic study) 750 more cars through the roads in the neighborhood which do not meet City standards for arterials. (One anecdote: we asked about the report that the traffic today at the roundabout “failing” the LOS (Level of Service). Ben and Laura acknowledged that the “software program being used today states “failing”…….but the City is getting a new software program that will show that it is “not failing.”)

“During our 90 minute meeting, Mike and I discussed many possibilities….stop signs, chicanes, speed bumps, altering of trees on private and public property, traffic lights at 42nd and IPL; traffic lights at 228th (this intersection is Issaquah…Laura said she’d see if she could work with Issaquah. Ben and Laura talked about these possibilities….but they satted it would take time to get them all approved…and that some might not be possible (e.g. Issaquah putting a lite at 228th).

“As the meeting was winding down, Ben Yazici made several threats to Mike Harris and me. (He was cordial…..but make no mistake….they were threats!)

“Ben said at least twice as the meeting was winding down……”If you (Kempton Downs) go ahead and file an appeal, all these options discussed are off the table.” We had about two weeks to go/no go on the appeal. Mike and I stated that we could not (on April 22nd) commit for the 55 residents of Kempton and the residents of Sammamish Highlands. The meeting ended.”

Three appeals documents

The appeal, which largely focuses on traffic impacts to neighborhood streets that aren’t meant to be arterials, is also similar to the Chestnut Estates West appeal and impacts to street. In this appeal, Hearing Examiner Galt found the neighborhood streets weren’t intended to be arterials. Galt is the Hearing Examiner on Conner-Jarvis.

Yacizi declined comment on any of the issues raised by Grady because of pending litigation.



3 thoughts on “City blocks environmental report in land use appeal

  1. Pingback: “Greenwashing” in Sammamish: A Special Report | Sammamish Comment

  2. Pingback: Greenwashing, Part 2: Sammamish never demanded EIS from developers | Sammamish Comment

  3. Pingback: Citizens protest Conner-Jarvis tree removal | Sammamish Comment

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