Buchan appeals Chestnut Estates West decision denying plat

William Buchan development company filed its appeal Wednesday of the denial of its plat application to build 30 new homes west of the main Chestnut Estates subdivision across salmon-sensitive Ebright Creek.

A Sammamish Hearing Examiner denied the plat over open space issues. He also found that road standards were inappropriately varied and criticized the Sammamish staff over a number of issues.

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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.

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Neighbors, environmentalists win appeal over City approval of Buchan project threatening Ebright Creek, kokanee

  • Hearing Examiner highly critical of City Staff.
  • Outright denies project, and raps City for decisions over roads, environment.
  • Says project should never have been approved.
  • Residents pay tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees to fight City’s approval.

A development approved by Sammamish that drew four appeals on environmental, street standards and other grounds was rejected last week by the City’s Hearing Examiner.

Even the developer, William Buchan Inc, appealed the decision by the City Staff, a highly unusual move, protesting conditions the City put on the development.

The Friends of Pine Lake and Wally Pereyra appealed over environmental impacts and Chestnut Estates Neighbors appealed over impacts to their neighborhoods.

Hearing Examiner John Galt found that the City improperly approved Buchan’s application for an extension of the Chestnut Estates development, at 212th and SE 8th, to a new project called Chestnut Estates West, across sensitive Ebright Creek. Accordingly, Galt denied the application. With this denial, several elements of the four appeals became moot, and he didn’t rule on the merits of these.

But in a 44 page decision, Galt minced no words. He said residents of Chestnut Estates could not be blamed for feeling Buchan engaged in “bait and switch” tactics with Chestnut Estates and the City’s decision—and its staff testimony—was “constantly changing” and “troubling.”

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Here’s how city can finance kick-start to Town Center

The City of Sammamish has the ability to provide financial support to developers to kick-start the Town Center (see following post). And there is a way to do so in a partnership, not an up-front gamble in today’s dicey marketplace.

The City’s current newsletter discusses the conservative approach taken by the City which avoided fronting infrastructure costs or land purchases for developers that would have stuck taxpayers with the burden following the September 2008 financial market meltdown and resulting global recession.

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