Grounds for appeals of developments

  • A previous column described some of the changes in Sammamish over the 20 years I’ve lived here, ending with appeals I filed over some development along SE 8th Today’s post takes up where that left off.

When I filed appeals of the Greens of Beaver Crest and a companion development, I knew little of what I was doing. I only knew I wanted some traffic calming on SE 8th, where I lived at the time, and King County said no. (This was before Sammamish incorporated.)

Tom Harmon, a citizen activist and a member of SHOUT, a citizens group, dropped off a manual of sorts about how to pursue appeals. I also began attending the public hearings of another appeal of a development along SE 228th by a resident, James Jordan, to learn about the process and evidentiary rules and requirements.

Still another appeal, over traffic issues that were at the heart of my appeal, had been filed a resident, Craig Dickison, and adjudicated by the King County Hearing Examiner.

The appeals were all denied, although the decision on Dickison’s appeal had been a close call. This decision became the one to follow for the Greens.

Citizens lose

One of the early takeaways from these appeals above was that citizens lose appeals. It was very, very rare that they win.

Under the law, Examiners give great weight or deference to the presumed expertise of those government employees making the decisions to grant approval of developments. Appellants have the burden of proof to demonstrate the decisions were in error.

When I talk about appellants as citizens, I should note that developers have the right to appeal as well. They sometimes do, objecting to conditions imposed by the government’s staff. We’ve seen this most recently in King County’s appeal of Sammamish staff conditions for development of the south leg of the East Lake Sammamish Trail. The County largely prevailed, while a homeowner’s group, SHO, did not in its appeal of the same ELST permit.

We also saw the developer appeal the Chestnut West development permit. Citizens won their appeals; the developer lost.

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