The Bellevue City Council began accepting portions of a planned-unit development application for phase one of the Strahorn subdivision in Slaughterhouse Canyon on Wednesday night after hearing additional public comments.
The application was reviewed and recommended for acceptance to the council by the Planning & Zoning Commission on Jan. 10.
The first of five phases of the Strahorn subdivision proposes 47 residential lots on about 18.5 acres at the mouth of the canyon. At full buildout, the development has proposed 205 lots.
At a special continued public hearing on Wednesday night, Mayor Ned Burns opened up public comment once again to hear citizens’ opinions and suggestions on the subdivision proposal, which has been on the horizon since 2009, when the property, owned by developer Jeff Pfaeffle, was annexed into city limits.
The annexation agreement brought about 110 acres into the city limits for a planned-unit development residential subdivision, but the project has continuously been derailed by a series of obstacles, including the Great Recession, appeals by citizens and requests for additional traffic studies.
Public comment has centered around a variety of issues, including access to BLM land, sufficient parking at trailheads, concern over street conditions and a strain on public services, safe routes to school for children, flooding, wildfires and the development not being in harmony with the surrounding areas. In rebuttal, Pfaeffle reminded the audience that much of the original plan for the development has been changed due to the city’s actions—specifically a property on Cedar Street that was purchased by the developer at the request of the city and given to the city to be used as employee housing (later converted to use for a fire station), additional parking for O’Donnell Park, a connector to recreational trails and a trailhead for BLM land in Slaughterhouse Canyon.
After comments from eight community members, the council decided how to proceed, by assessing each evaluation standard of the PUD application as recommended by the P&Z. City attorney Rick Allington explained that the council members could agree with the findings by the P&Z as recommended or ask for additional stipulations from the developer.
Council members started at the beginning and stalled just three standards in with an ordinance requirement that states that “the proposed PUD will have a beneficial effect not normally achieved by standard subdivision development.” That point has been contested by several citizens who have argued that the proposed development will not benefit the community but rather be a burden to taxpayers.
“I don’t see where there’s a beneficial effect here,” Councilman Greg Cappel said.
The P&Z stated in its recommendations that the benefits to the public included the addition of a booster station to increase water pressure in the subdivision, to several houses in Sunrise Ranch subdivision and to the fire station on Cedar Street, and funding to provide additional radio coverage for Bellevue emergency services.
For the developer, the PUD allows for modifications in design layouts that would not be permitted with a standard subdivision development and grants relief from some other required standards.
But council members Cappel and Kathryn Goldman were unsatisfied and voted to table accepting the recommendation of the commission, while council members Doug Brown and Tammy Davis voted against, leaving Burns to cast a tie-breaking vote because Councilman Shaun Mahoney was absent and Councilman Mike Choat had abstained because he was involved in the Strahorn development a decade ago. Burns voted in favor of tabling the acceptance of the standard for the time being.
After a three-hour-long meeting, council members voted to continue the meeting to a Sept. 30, at which time they will continue to go through each recommendation from the P&Z on the PUD application.