Treemont decision now up to examiner

FALL CITY - King County Hearing Examiner Stafford Smith should decide within the next few weeks whether he will recommend approval of Port Blakely Communities' plans to build 194 houses on 239 acres near Fall City.

After listening to five days of testimony spread throughout the past three weeks, Smith acknowledged his task wasn't enviable. Port Blakely's Treemont project was first proposed in 1988 when the land was subject to General zoning, or one house per acre. That conflicts with the surrounding area, which is zoned RA-5, or one house every five acres.

Over the past decade, the project has accumulated a small library's worth of studies, analyses and other documents. Port Blakely contends the project is vested and the company should be allowed the 194 lots. Neighbors disagree, arguing the development would irreparably harm rural character.

"I have to honestly say I don't know how I'm going to come out on a lot of it," Smith said of Port Blakely's plat application at the hearing, which ended Friday, March 22.

This is the second time the project has been before him. He and the King County Department of Development and Environmental Services (DDES) previously recommended approval of the 194-lot project. But the Metropolitan King County Council remanded the plat application, causing a second ound of hearings.

This time, though, DDES is calling for the project to be scaled down to 47 lots because of potential environmental impacts.

John Adams, Port Blakely's senior vice president for real estate, said his company has done its part to ensure the project will protect the environment.

"The remand process has not identified any new impacts to the environment that were not previously identified in the original hearings," he said.

Bob Seana of Neighbors Against Flooding said common sense should stop the project.

"It seems to me the county has the power to do something here because there are significant environmental impacts," he said.

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