After hearing testimony for more than an hour and having two short recesses, the Redmond City Council decided to continue its hearing on a 76-lot, 17-acre proposed development off of 116th Street Northeast, near Albert Einstein Elementary, until the first meeting of May due to an issue involving tree retention.
The Pearce CamWest Planned Residential Development is a proposed 17.26-acre development to the west of Einstein Elementary.
Nearby citizens brought two appeals to the hearing examiner, who dismissed them and allowed the project to go forward. Those same two appeals then went in front of the Council as a quasi-judicial manner, meaning that the Council essentially works as a judge/jury and can only look at facts that the hearing examiner did. The Council also can not speak about the case beforehand or in the two weeks preceding a vote, and thus were not able to speak about the matter after the meeting.
CamWest representatives argued that the one of the appeals, brought forward by resident Jerry Creek, wasn’t under the Council’s jurisdiction and should be sent to the Superior Court. The Council ultimately agreed by a 5-1 vote with Nancy McCormick dissenting.
The other argument, presented by Werner Deganseman, was tabled until May by a 3-3 vote with Mayor John Marchione breaking the tie. The crux of the argument centered around the retention of landmark trees, which are 30 inches in diameter or larger. The city code states that every landmark tree should try to be saved, but developers are allowed exemptions when that isn’t possible. The CamWest representatives stated they had the appropriate exemption, and the city staff report refers to it.
“It is not reasonable to save every tree, every landmark tree,” Councilman Richard Cole, who voted against postponing the issue, said during the meeting.
But Councilwoman Kim Allen asked several times to both the city and CamWest to prove the hearing examiner had the tree exemption in the record. The Council even took a 15-minute break to find the notes from the hearing examiner. Yet it was still undetermined whether the hearing examiner had it or not.
Redmond Planning Manager Judd Black told the Council he can research the issue more, but he couldn’t guarantee they could prove it because the hearing examiner no longer works for the city and he didn’t know how meticulous the records were kept.
Allen, a licensed attorney, said the outcome was important enough to wait on the vote. McCormick and Hank Margeson agreed.
“If we want a looser standard (of saving every landmark tree), we should write a looser standard,” Allen said during the meeting.
Cole, Hank Myers and David Carson opposed the motion. Marchione was forced to break the tie and decided to continue the vote until the first week of May because Councilman Pat Vache had excused himself since he lived close to the area and had an interest in its outcome.
A CamWest representative declined to comment after the meeting.
Council supports 152nd Ave NE
The Redmond City Council made it official that it “strongly supports” 152nd Avenue Northeast for the RapidRide transit system in the Overlake area. Metro and the advisory committee had recommended 156th Avenue NE for the RapidRide program, which will have fewer stops and come more frequently than typical buses, but the Redmond Council has always maintained its preference for 152nd. The Bellevue City Council, which is also affected by the Overlake route, voted a day earlier that it agrees with Redmond on 152nd.
The final decision, however, rests with the King County Council and they are expected to vote sometime in May or June.
Thumbs up for Vision 2040
McCormick, the Redmond Council president, was given an informal thumbs up from the Council to give support to the new Puget Sound Regional Council’s (PSRC) Vision 2040.
Vision 2040, the PSRC’s long-range vision for a sustainable future for the greater Puget Sound area, includes King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties. It updates the Vision 2020 plan that was started in the early 1990s.