by Jeff Switzer
BEAR CREEK--Opponents of the Northridge urban planned development tried to bring new information before the King County Council last Friday, contending that Seattle may not have enough water for the mini-city planned for Novelty Hill Road, while also arguing for additional traffic and water mitigations.
But in its quasi-judicial capacity, the council was unable to hear the new evidence, as it was not in the public hearing and the issue of water availability was not appealed. The council considered remanding the issue for further consideration, but after a line of questions from Councilmember Brian Derdowski, the issue was briefly put to rest because building permits cannot be issued if water isn't available.
But area resident and Friends of the Law President Joseph Elfelt believes that isn't good enough. He said the council needs to know now. His organization partnered in the appeal against Northridge with the Coalition for Public Trust in an effort to persuade the council to deny the permits.
"The water issue is the number one issue," Elfelt said. "The issue of adequate water supply is so overreaching and so affects everybody [that the council must take it into consideration]," he said.
FOTL and CPT attempted to submit a document to the council which described an intertie project to the Tacoma Green River supply system, a project which says that demand in the area will exceed supply in 1997, while the project is not scheduled until 2002.
The two grassroots organizations argued that the new information, not disclosed to the council, justified remanding the issue to the hearing examiner, who could reopen the public record, issue a supplemental decision and reopen the appeals process.
Stafford Smith, who was present at the hearing, told the council he felt the issue of water availability had been properly addressed and that certificates of availability had been issued by the City of Redmond. The City of Redmond responded that while they issued the certificates, they were contingent upon renegotiations with the City of Seattle, which controls the Tolt Pipeline.
But Redmond's main issue was traffic. The city argued that the proposed $829,000 in traffic mitigations was insufficient for the $4.5 million in identified needs on projects reportedly affected by the 1,046-acre proposal.
Following repeated references to the need for a remand, Councilmember Maggi Fimia moved that the Council consider remanding the issue of water availability only, though Derdowski argued the time wasn't right and the council could reconsider the water issue as new information became available. Fimia withdrew her motion.
"It would hold up the entire process," Smith said of the remand process. "You'd be lucky to get it done in three months."
Elfelt believes there should be a mechanism for new information to be brought to the council on issues such as this.
While David Bricklin, CPT and FOTL's lawyer, was not able to submit the information regarding Seattle's water dilemma, he alluded to it continually throughout the first six minutes of his appeal testimony, bringing Quadrant's lawyer Richard Wilson to the microphone in objection.
"This is a bootstrap kind of argument where he is trying to inject new information into the hearing," Wilson said. Chuck Maduell, council attorney, agreed, and Council Chair Jane Hague warned Bricklin to stay away from the topic.
Bricklin argued that the projects failed to contain their impacts, as required by state law for a fully-contained community, and that the surface water runoff was improperly calculated.
Wilson, of Quadrant, argued in its appeal that the 100-foot buffer, or 70-foot intense buffer, on Novelty Hill Road should be a 50-foot buffer, a request spoken against by the Novelty Hill Ranch Estates Homeowners Association across the street.
The Union Hill Water Association, which serves 5,500 people, argued that the deep aquifer from which they get most of their well-water would be deeply affected by the impervious surface planned on Northridge, built in the recharge area. They requested that a deep monitoring well be dug and continuously monitored, rather than at four discreet time periods during development. They also opposed the hearing examiner's recommendation that the shallow test wells be averaged, as they are measuring different parts of the Vashon-advance aquifer.
The council is able to remand the proposals to the hearing examiner, or amend his recommendation to approve. The hearing, continued since Nov. 8, will now continue Jan. 10, 1997.