The Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission will consider Wednesday, June 22, at 5:30 p.m., granting a variance to a Riverside Estates property owner that would allow him to build closer than 100 feet from the Big Wood River.

Tim Thomas and the Pensco Trust are seeking to build at 700 Riverside Drive within the city’s required 100-foot riparian setback. His application, to be presented by David Patrie, states that, “many years of flood events have caused erosion to the subject property, thereby decreasing the size of the area where the building envelope is located.”

Thomas proposes building a home on a building envelope of 10,780 square feet and has compared his lot to those of his neighbors in Riverside with lots ranging from 22,000 to 36,000 square feet. Existing code would allow a lot of 7,000 square feet.

Riverside Estates has been the site of extensive flooding in recent years, jeopardizing city infrastructure and leading to evacuations and property damages. The setback variance would allow Thomas to build a larger home on his property that would reach closer to the river on the northwest corner.

“In the time since the Riverside Estates Subdivision was platted and approved [1981], FEMA has updated its floodway/floodplain mapping and the city of Bellevue adopted a Floodplain Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance,” the application states. “The strict enforcement of this ordinance will deprive the subject property rights and privileges enjoyed by other properties in the vicinity and under the same zoning classification.”

Thomas said in an interview that when he bought to lot in 2013, he was allowed to build closer to the river.

“And then the ordinance was passed,” he said. “I am not asking for more, just or what I had to begin with.”

Blaine County Floodplain Manager Kristine Hilt wrote a report on the variance application for the Bellevue P&Z Commission.

“The Big Wood River is a highly dynamic and erosive river," she wrote. "Existing structures built close to the river are at risk of erosion and flood damage. These structures have proven difficult to access and protect during floods of record.”

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