County Council to hear Northridge appeals
by Jeff Switzer
BEAR CREEK--Northridge, the second proposed urban planned development for Novelty Hill, which would put 4,150 people and create 3,700 jobs on 1,000 acres, has reached the quasi-judicial phase, in which legal arguments will be heard by the County Council.
Appellant presentations are tentatively scheduled for Dec. 13, after the lack of a quorum beyond 11:45 a.m. was blamed for a short hearing Nov. 4.
Before the hearing began, Councilmember Chris Vance responded to accusations that he was biased towards approving the Northridge development. The allegations were based on discussions documented by Coalition for Public Trust President Steve O'Donnell and members Darla Wilson, Mary O'Farrell, Linda Hamm, and Margaret Hopper.
"We never discussed the pending FCC/UPD decision in any way," said Vance, who maintained the substance of the discussions was legislative in origin and not quasi-judicial. "I am not biased in any way in favor of or in opposition to (the Northridge proposal)" he said. "Every one of us here," he gestured to the council, "has voted on this as a legislative matter. That does not bias us on a quasi-judicial matter. I think (this request) sets a disturbing precedent suggesting that we are not able to separate our legislative duties from our quasi-judicial duties."
Vance was twice interrupted during his response by audience members opposing the Blakely Ridge and Northridge UPDs, who waved sheets of paper identifying donations from Port Blakely Tree Farms and Weyerhaeuser to his King County Council election bid. King County Council Chair Jane Hague warned the demonstrators to refrain from waving signs and asked them to act in a civil manner, and no other interruptions occurred.
In the two hours and 15 minutes during which the full King County Council was in attendance (save Councilmember Greg Nickels), Hearing Examiner Stafford Smith, who recommended approval of the project earlier this year, gave a brief overview of the developer's proposal and proposed mitigations for traffic, buffers from rural areas, and groundwater issues.
The City of Redmond, Union Hill Water Association, Coalition for Public Trust, and Friends of the Law, as well as Port Blakely Tree Farms and Quadrant, remain appellants in the hearings.
Quadrant, the developers for Northridge, proposes to develop a 1,046-acre site with 229 acres of residential uses, including single- and multi-family, an eight-acre neighborhood shopping center adjacent to Novelty Hill Road, a 122-acre business park, public facilities, and 602 acres of open space. When completed, the proposed project would have a total of 1,300 to 1,500 units and an estimated population of 4,150 and 3,700 jobs, developed over a five- to 15-year period.