Sammamish, residents may settle lawsuit over street

December 5, 2013

By Ari Cetron

New: Dec. 5, 12:08 p.m.

Sammamish is suing a group of neighbors along Southeast 14th Street, but the parties may have come to a settlement.

The Lawson Park subdivision is going in along 14th Street between 242nd Drive Southeast and Southeast Windsor Boulevard. As part of the development, the city wants to finish paving a section of road on 14th. City regulations call for increasing street connectivity whenever possible, rather than creating new cul-de sacs.

Some residents in the area, however, aren’t too keen on what they fear will be an increase in cut-through traffic, particularly students on their way to and from Skyline High School looking to shave a few minutes off the drive.

Katie McDorman, one of the property owners being sued, said the morning drive seems fairly quiet, but in the afternoons, students seem in a rush to get to after-school plans.

“By the time they hit our street, they’re going at a pretty good speed,” she said.

The city filed its suit against four property owners on 14th Street Nov. 6. In court documents, the city noted that each property has a clause in the title stating that it will turn over a section of the property, upon demand, to be used as a road.

McDorman acknowledged that the clause exists, but she said the plans for the road do not meet proper safety standards. She and her neighbors wanted sidewalks on both sides of the road, and a traffic circle to be installed to help slow down traffic flow.

The city had planned only to put a sidewalk on one side of the road.

Since there hadn’t been an agreement, there was a lawsuit. However, the suit created a new wrinkle when the court date was scheduled for Jan. 15, 2015.

The new Lawson Park development will likely be complete well before that date. If the development is complete before the road issue is settled, the only solution will be to erect a barricade, completely blocking traffic on the road.

Once a barricade has been installed, there are a number of bureaucratic hoops the city must jump though to remove it. The process can take months and be very costly. To date, the city has removed only one barricade using the process.

In 2011, a barricade on 32nd Street was taken down. The city ended up spending about $400,000 on traffic safety improvements after it was gone. The city has also been eyeing the removal of a barricade on Northeast 42nd Street, but has consistently delayed action.

It was the prospect of having to put in a new barricade, McDorman said, that scared the city into making the additional concessions. On Nov. 25, neighbors met with city officials and, McDorman said, they largely hashed out an agreement. The neighbors will get the extra safety improvements, and then will be willing to sign over their easements for the road to the city.

“In the end, we kind of got what we wanted,” she said.

Public Works Director Laura Philpot said the city’s goal is to work with the neighbors, but the deal is not yet officially done. She said that she would need to seek approval for the possible deal – first with City Manager Ben Yazici, and the City Council would also need to ultimately approve it.

Last week’s Thanksgiving holiday interrupted that timeline, but an agreement may be finalized soon.

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