Retreat Preview: 36 of 54 Public Works variances granted in last two years

Staff work plans, the Town Center Development, neighborhood connectivity (barricades), the futureCity_of_Sammamish financial cross-over point (going into deficits), and updates of the East Lake Sammamish Trail, what to do with the Mars Hill Church and connecting Big Rock Park with the Lower Sammamish Commons are among the topics that will be discussed at the Sammamish City Council Retreat beginning at 5pm Thursday at the Murano Hotel in Tacoma.

Community outreach is also one of the topics that will be discussed at the Retreat.

So is the number of variances granted by Staff to developers, a subject that became a sore point with citizens objecting to projects and leading to appeals, some of which were upheld by the City’s Hearing Examiner over improperly approved plats.

In a briefing paper included in the 284 page Council packet (beginning on document page 23), the Staff reports that between Jan. 1, 2010, and Nov. 30, 2015, 54 variances to Public Works Standards, including 23 for slightly narrower roads. Staff noted that 19 of these came after action by the Council in 2013 encouraging narrower streets in some cases.

(The rationale behind this is to reduce the impervious surfaces, a benefit to the environment.–Editor.)

Twenty seven of the 54 variances were granted in 2015, followed by nine in 2014, or 36 in the last two years alone.

Shoreline and Zoning 15 variances granted during the same period of nearly five years. There were granted  for the “minimum necessary relief to a development standard that would otherwise create undue hardship upon a property owner,” the Staff report says (beginning on document page 41). Most of these were granted for development along the Lake Sammamish shoreline.

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