County Board Slams Door On Behring -- But Boundary-Review Panel Approves Vote On Rest Of Issaquah Annexation
EASTGATE - Seattle Seahawks owner Ken Behring's hopes for a planned community on Grand Ridge were dashed when his property was excluded from an annexation to Issaquah last night.
The King County Boundary Review Board unanimously approved an election to annex about 15 square miles of the East Sammamish Plateau to the city. But the board deleted about five square miles of land, which includes Grand Ridge, that is zoned for rural population densities in the King County Comprehensive Plan.
The 8-0 decision came quickly, with only a few comments from the board and from those focused on removing rural areas south of the Issaquah-Fall City Road and Duthie Hill Road from the annexation.
The Grand Ridge Partnership, the partnership of Behring's Blackhawk Corp. and Port Blakely Tree Farms, acquired the 2,000-acre Grand Ridge parcel as part of a package of almost 4,000 acres of land scattered throughout East and South King County, from the Glacier Park Co. May 30.
The partnership envisioned a planned community of 6,000 homes and apartments for about 18,000 people on Grand Ridge. It included two golf courses, a community center and as much as 8 million square feet of business space. The plan, however, would require rezoning of the land.
Despite tight land-use regulations in Issaquah, Grand Ridge Partnership believed it would be easier to deal with the city than with the county. After the purchase was announced, county planning officials made it clear the land would remain in rural zoning - 5-acre minimum lots.
Behring has said that if the county rejects his plan he would reluctantly build about 500 expensive homes on large parcels of Grand Ridge, which would not require rezoning.
Before voting to delete Grand Ridge, board member Richard Burhans said one of his big concerns is drainage from the ridge into the Snoqualmie River drainage basin.
Water draining into the Raging River and Patterson Creek, and then into the Snoqualmie River adds to flooding in the Carnation-Duvall area, he said.
``Grand Ridge has a serious impact on the entire lower Snoqualmie River Basin,'' Burhans said.
Until regional land-use issues are resolved, said board member David Boerner, Grand Ridge should remain in unincorporated King County. If it is ever developed to urban densities, then annexation to the city would be no problem, he added.
Lois Schwennesen, director of the county Parks, Planning and Resources Department, said no one from Grand Ridge Partnership has contacted the county with specific requests since the land changed hands. But she said she was happy with the decision.
``It means to me that the Review Board is recognizing and supporting our regional growth plan. That's good news . . . to keep rural land rural,'' she said.
At least one large property owner on East Sammamish Plateau, who asked not to be identified, is still opposed to the annexation and is considering filing an appeal in King County Superior Court. Behring also has the option of appealing to Superior Court.
The deadline for filing an appeal is June 23.
Issaquah Mayor Rowan Hinds said the decision came as no surprise, but he was disappointed the presentation for including Grand Ridge in the annexation was not given more board consideration.
Hinds said the city will try to place the annexation proposal on a September election ballot. Only residents of the area to be annexed will vote.
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