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Council wary of TRF freeze proposal

TRF freeze proposal by Jeff Switzer
WOODINVILLE--The developers of downtown's retail project, TRF-Pacific, have approached the city with a proposal to freeze the development regulations for a 10-year period while their project is completed.
   While TRF believes its binding site plan entitles the project to at least a five-year guarantee, City Attorney Wayne Tanaka believes the site plan does not qualify as a subdivision as defined by state law, and has cautioned the council.
   "I feel the city should decide it on a case-by-case basis rather than saying, when they ring the bell, we'll send the money," Tanaka said. He added that the language proposed was too broad and "wasn't in the city's interest that every permit they want to get, we are obligated, at no cost to them, to help them get it."
   A letter from TRF Attorney Brent Carson acknowledges that "because of the nature of the project, development will take a number of years to complete," with the possibility they may not apply for building permits for years to come. "In the absence of this agreement, the developer would have less assurance that it can complete the project," the proposed agreement reads.
   Carson suggested that TRF was doing more than its fair share in road improvements, $6 million worth, and was looking for some assurance the project would not be subject to the whims of future city councils and code changes.
   Many variations of the agreement may be adopted by the city, including a piece-meal exemption from certain ordinances, regulations, or policies which may be adopted in the interim, such as the sign code or a revision of the interim design principles, adopted upon incorporation.
   The council will be looking at the revised sign code, which has recently been forwarded from the Planning Commission, either this week or at the beginning of 1997. With that in mind, suspending regulations from Oct. 2 for as many as 10 years has the council concerned about compliance with the city's vision for sign dimensions.
   Tanaka said the council needed to make a policy decision regarding exemption from certain code requirements, though he suggested it's better when the code is taken as a whole. The City Council instructed staff and Tanaka to work with Carson to develop an agreement that is acceptable to the city for consideration at a future meeting.