After six years, Chestnut Estates West appeals appear to be nearing end

After six years, the fight over approval of the Chestnut Estates West plat off 212th Ave. and SE 8th St. appears to be over.

The Washington Appellate Court denied an appeal by developer Buchan over a Hearing Examiner ruling that Sammamish erred in allowing Buchan to swap out “tract K,” permanent open space that was part of the first Chestnut Estates plat approval.

Buchan years later applied for approved for the West plat at the end of SE 8th in the original plat. But Buchan needed to swap tract K to another location in order to build a bridge and connect to the original plat.

Staff ignored plat condition

The City staff approved the plan to move the open space to a different location despite the plat restriction of Chestnut Estates.

Several groups appealed the staff’s approval, including Friends of Pine Lake, a number of Chestnut Estates homeowners and environmentalist Wally Pereyra. Among the Chestnut Estates appellants were Tom and Christie Malchow. Christie Malchow later ran for City Council and won. She is in the middle of her first four-year term.

The City’s Hearing Examiner ruled the City improperly allowed tract K’s relocation. He also ruled Staff had improperly allowed variances to road standards.

The King County Superior Court rendered a split decision, remanding part of the case back to the Hearing Examiner.

Buchan appealed Superior Court’s decision to the Appellate Court. Tract K’s condition on the Chestnut Estates plat was clear and unambiguous, Buchan’s arguments supporting relocation were insufficient and state law was clear on the point.

Another example of Variances-R-Us

The Appellate Court decision is another rebuke of the Sammamish City Staff’s propensity to ignore its own codes and plat conditions.

As Sammamish Comment wrote throughout 2015, staff approved plats while waiving or ignoring code. In a stunning admission during an appeal of the Highcroft plat approval (the big project on 228th at SE 20th), staff said it didn’t always follow code. Years earlier a Trossachs project was approved with questionable adherence to code. Earlier this year, staff admitted it didn’t follow the Comprehensive Plan, code or Council policy when creating the traffic concurrency modeling.



1 thought on “After six years, Chestnut Estates West appeals appear to be nearing end

  1. There’s a few highly salient points that you didn’t cover here.

    First, how much did this actually cost the City in staff time, legal fees, court costs, etc.? Not to mention the opportunity costs.

    Second, since a number of Council members are still “serving,” and many of the City staff still have their jobs, on whose watch all of this bad behavior occurred — what concrete steps are being taken to prevent this from happening again? The problem appears to be systemic, so the solution must be systemic as well. I don’t see any evidence whatsoever of how processes are being improved and how compliance with its own rules is being enforced by the City government on itself.

    Third, is anybody actually going to be held accountable? Anybody?

    Well, the last question is rhetorical, since history provides the answer. For the others, I think the citizens are owed answers by those we entrust with governance and administration.

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