Council to decide on 2m sf Town Center request Feb. 16

The City Council is scheduled to decide this Tuesday, February 16, on whether to grant a Docket Application to amend the Comprehensive Plan to provide for 2 million square feet of commercial space and a 20% increase in residential zoning for the new Town Center.

The two posts that follow this one explain all that needs to be explained.

No further Town Center upzoning needed

The Planning Commission will hand over to the City Council on Feb. 9 the recommended regulations to implement the Town Center Plan adopted by the Council in 2008. The Plan calls for development of 600,000 sf of commercial space and 2,000 residential units.

The Town Center straddles 228th Ave. with the geographic center at SE 4th and 228th. The TC is in four quadrants, two on each side of 228th. The Eastside is assigned 180,000 sf of commercial (office/retail) and the Westside has 320,000 sf of which 90,000 sf is immediately adjacent City Hall and the new Library–forming a cluster next to the developing Sammamish Commons. The other Westside commercial-retail, amounting to 230,000 sf is clustered on SE 4th at about 220th to form the “core” commercial/retail center, on the north side of Sammamish Commons.

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Applicants seeks 2m sf in Town Center

Update: Reader Bump is correct in his comment below.

Original Post:

The Docket request filed by some landowners in the Southeast Quadrant in the Sammamish Town Center seeks a general upzoning over the 600,000 sf approved to a total of 1.38 1.98 million sf so the quadrant can have a “proportional” increase from 90,000 sf to 300,000 sf.

The Docket request also proposes a 20% increase in the SE Quadrant residential zoning (from R-15 to R-18), which accounting for the “proportional” request means the total residential units in the TC would increase to 2,400 from 2,000 approved by the City Council in 2008. Another estimated 225 residential units are possible through the proposed transfer of development rights still being prepared by the City staff.

A close reading of the Docket request by this column revealed the true nature of the Docket, which has been represented by the applicants as desiring 300,000 sf of commercial and 144 more residential units than in the approved TC Plan.

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Town Center: East vs West

Recent letters in The Sammamish Review (Jan. 13, 2010) and The Sammamish Reporter (Jan. 15) by John Galvin saying he isn’t proposing adding 210,000 commercial space and 144 residential units to his Southeast Quadrant in the Town Center, instead proposing to shift it from other quadrants, is highly revealing.

First, it demonstrates that his long campaign is about him and not about what’s best for the Town Center landowners and the City of Sammamish. He suggests taking zoning from other landowners who are counting on decisions made by the City over five years. These landowners depend on the financial benefits from these upzonings. Galvin proposes taking this away from these citizens for his own benefit. I imagine that the Westside landowners will find this revelation distressing.

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3 newbies join Planning Commission

Three new people joined the Sammamish Planning Commission after being appointed Jan. 19 by the City Council. This article in The Sammamish Review provides details.

After the City Council, this is the most important body authorized in state law for cities. All land use policies and proposals must first go through the Planning Commission. Environmental policies start here.

The seven members are all unpaid volunteers who donate and dedicate their time. It is a thankless job–often without thanks from the very City Council that appoints them–and their recommendations frequently become targets from citizens and council members alike.

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The big issues in 2010

Sammamish faces several big issues this year that will be important for citizens to follow. Among them, in no particular order:

The Budget: Sammamish is a property tax-based community. Revenue diversification is needed (which is what the Town Center is about–see below). Because of the global economic meltdown beginning in September 2008, which dried up the housing market, a major source of revenues for the City declined significantly: permit and impact fees. Although markets appear to be slowly improving, it will be some time before revenues recover. The City Council will have some hard choices to make on expenditures and potentially….

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New Era Begins

A new era begins with the seating of three new members to the City Council.

Tom Odell replaces Jack Barry, a 10-year member of the Council whom Odell defeated decisively in the November election; John James won equally decisively over Erica Tiliacos in his second try, this time for an open Council seat; and ex-TV personality John Curley easily defeated Tom Vance for another open seat.

Incumbents still control the Council, however. Ten-year veteran Don Gerend swamped token opposition to be reelected. Nancy Whitten, Mark Cross and Michele Petitti remain and all are up for election in 2011.

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