Proposed rezone draws criticism

By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

A proposed rezone of about 230 acres of steep slopes in Bonney Lake drew considerable comment at the Aug. 23 City Council meeting.

A recommendation by the Planning Commission and staff to change the zoning from residential (R-1) and commercial to RC-5, which allows one house per five acres, did not set well with numerous landowners of the affected properties.

The RC-5 is residential conservation while R-1 zoning designates four houses per acre.

Bart Tracy, one of the landowners, reminded the council his property was annexed by the city and he intends to build a senior citizen retirement facility serving the Bonney Lake Area.

"I'm looking at damages north of $10 million if this is rezoned (to RC-5)," Tracy said to the council members. "I didn't drive by your home and pull money out of your pockets. I was promised annexation, I paid the development fees, and then you talk about changing the zoning."

Homer Dean, an owner of property in the steep slopes area said his father bought the land to help his grandchildren's education.

"We were asked to annex (by the city)," Dean said. "How can you decide it's not usable because of a couple of hills?"

The council has been considering rezoning recommendations from the staff and planning commission. The commission had been working on numerous areas of zoning inconsistency within the city's comprehensive plan.

Other inconsistency areas like 41 brought considerable debate and criticism from property owners and the council decided to leave the current commercial zoning of those properties in place.

The council has tabled the steep slopes areas for further discussion.

Councilman Phil DeLeo suggested the members take a tour of the affected areas. The city staff scheduled a public tour of the area at 2:45 Thursday, with council members and staff meeting at the City Hall Annex.

"I'm trying to figure out how the city is supposed to provide for growth and at the same time take care of steep slopes and critical areas," Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman said. "I haven't made a decision on the area's zoning, yet."

Councilman Jim Rackley came out at the meeting against rezoning the properties.

"I'm totally against taking value from people's property by down zoning without proper compensation," Rackley said. "And I don't believe the Growth Management Hearing Board will allow RC-5 zoning. There's not going to be a lot of building (on the land), so what are we trying to protect?"

Ray Frey, of Halsan Frey LLC, a land use consultant, sounded a warning to the city concerning the rezone.

"The city is setting itself up for a major battle it cannot win." Frey said.

If the council decides to rezone the steep slopes area, property owners can take the decision to the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board for a review.

Dennis Box can be reached at

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