The fate of ongoing development in the Sammamish Town Center is headed to a hearing examiner after the City ruled that plans for a new phase failed to meet numerous zoning and environmental requirements.
After learning of the Nov. 13 ruling, the project applicant announced it would appeal to the City’s hearing examiner while taking this latest hurdle in stride.
“We all along assumed it was going to get to a hearing examiner,” said Matthew Samwick, operating manager for STCA, the joint-venture pursuing the project. He expects the hearing to take place in February or March.
STCA is proposing to build 300 apartment units, 48 townhomes and 82,000 square feet of commercial space on an eight-acre site. The project includes four residential-commercial buildings and one commercial-only building.
Samwick declined to comment on the specifics of the ruling, but said STCA remains committed to “doing everything appropriate to protect and promote our interests.”
The Sammamish Town Center encompasses 240 acres in Sammamish’s core that are designated for vibrant mixed-use development through the City’s comprehensive plan. While some development has already occurred, STCA is pursuing additional phases on several sites within the designated area.
The City’s denial of STCA’s plan for the eight-acre site comes on top of a moratorium on most major development throughout Sammamish. The moratorium, which runs through January, buys the City time to revise standards for awarding traffic concurrency certificates. If traffic from new development is projected to push a road or intersection beyond capacity, the certificate is denied and development cannot proceed.
While the level of development in the Town Center met the City’s original concurrency standards, the City is trying to tighten standards in a way that would restrict future development. This reflects the current City Council’s concerns about the pace and intensity of growth – especially as it relates to the Town Center – and the potential stress on roads, schools and other infrastructure.
The recent ruling by Director of Community Development David Pyle involved STCA’s submission of a Unified Zone Development Plan (UZDP) for the eight-acre site. The UZDP is intended to ensure the development is consistent with the City’s land-use, infrastructure and building requirements for the area.
During the review process, the City and STCA traded comments on a host of issues in the 2,000-page plan. Many remain unresolved. Sticking points include the location of a city square, the absence of retail and civic uses on the ground floor of every building and the full incorporation of low-impact development strategies such as tree and native soil retention.