Bigger Sammamish Comprehensive Plan study means bigger costs

April 4, 2014

By Ari Cetron

New: April 4, 2:26 p.m.

Additions to a study of Sammamish’s comprehensive plan could cost upwards of $200,000, but it’s unlikely the price tag will be quite that high.

The City Council heard details March 17 about the extra money and time it would take to add on a series of high-profile items to the comprehensive plan rewrite. The city is in the midst of updating its plan, which governs many aspects of city government, particularly land use. Late last year, the council suggested a laundry list of items it would like to see included in the review.

Community Development Director Kamuron Gurol came back to the council and gave details about each of them. The majority of the proposals were small items that could be included into the existing work, but a few stood out.

Gurol drew the council’s attention to what could be particularly controversial or time-consuming – or both.

The council had asked for a review of all the land in the city that is zoned for one house per acre (commonly called R-1).

A pair of landowners who requested a change, which would allow them to build more homes, prompted part of the review.

“This is probably the most controversial part of the comprehensive plan rewrite,” City Manager Ben Yazici told the council.

About 20 percent of the land in the city would be included, Yazici noted, and beyond that, people who live in adjacent areas would also be quite interested if their neighbors were suddenly permitted to build more homes.

Gurol said there are more than 1,000 parcels in the area, and looking at them all would be difficult. He estimated the study would cost about $50,000 and could take six months to complete. He and Yazici asked the council to narrow the scope of the review to save on time, money and controversy.

Councilwoman Nancy Whitten pointed out that she was more interested in a very broad review that would also include deciding if some parts of the area might require even more restrictive regulations.

“You need to look at all areas, not just the ones that favor the landowners,” she said.

In the end, the council agreed to look at regulations in those areas to see if there might be ways to allow for more houses without sacrificing environmental benefits.

The other big topic was a review of the Town Center Plan. The council had asked for a holistic review of the Town Center Plan, with an eye toward finding ways to spur development.

Again, Gurol said, this would be a large-scale plan that would be costly and take a lot of time. This one, he said, would also take six months and could cost between $87,500 and $102,500, plus another $9,000 to do a needed transportation analysis.

Again, he asked that the council refine their request. In this case, he thought the review might simply look at regulations. The council agreed.

The other two parts added to the comprehensive plan review aren’t in Sammamish.

The first is a study of Klahanie. For the city to annex the area, it would need to update its comprehensive plan to reflect the addition of the area, which covers about 2 square miles.

Some of the changes could take place this year, assuming things go smoothly with needed work by Issaquah and King County to allow Sammamish to bring Klahanie into the fold.

Other parts would happen with the plan rewrite. This would also cost about $50,000.

The final addition to the comprehensive plan is the so-called Duthie Hill Notch, an area north of Duthie Hill Road and west of Trossachs. The area is surrounded on three sides by Sammamish, but it lies within unincorporated King County.

However, it is outside the city’s Urban Growth Boundary. As a result, before Sammamish could annex the area, it would need King County to adjust the boundary, something the county is loathe to do. King County rejected petitions to move the boundary in 2008 and 2012.

However, the city is planning for the possibility that it might one day be able to annex the notch. That study will cost $20,000. Yazici recused himself from discussion of the notch, as he’s done in the past, because of a possible appearance of a conflict of interests.

The items will be brought back to the council, with refined scopes and price tags, in the coming months.

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