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Area 41 to stay as zoned
By Brian Beckley
After months of attending planning commission and city council meetings, the residents of the controversial rezone inconsistency Area 41 may not see their properties rezoned to residential use after all.
Members of the planning commission and city staff have reconsidered changing the use of their properties, located near the intersection of South Prairie Road and 200th Avenue Court East, and instead seem poised to recommend the property remain commercial.
A Bonney Lake Planning Department matrix of the remaining 31 inconsistency areas lists Area 41 as a proposed rezone from C-2/C-3 to C-2, meaning the land will remain commercially zoned, though not available for industrial uses.
"We're real relieved around my house," said property owner Bob Lockwood, who along with his wife Vera, has been one of the most vocal opponents of the change. "That's what we've been pushing for."
The rezoning of the various parcels throughout the city are due to inconsistencies between the land's current zoning and the future land use designation in the city's Comprehensive Plan. State law dictates that the two must match.
Originally, Area 41 was designated to be rezoned to R-2, medium-density residential. Residents complained because the change could cost them millions of dollars in the sale of their land. Also, when the area was annexed into Bonney Lake, residents were told their land would remain commercially zoned, it's designation in the county.
Planning Commission Chairman Randy McKibbin said he opposed the residential zoning because landowners were told the property would remain commercial.
"I've never been one for the R-2 thing," McKibbin said. "I don't think you can do that to those people."
McKibbin said he tried to put himself into shoes of the property owners.
"I would feel even worse than they do," he said. "That's a major deal to a group of people."
"They were promised C-2/C-3 by the city when they moved in," agreed Commissioner Quinn Dahlstrom. "By goodness they should stay commercial."
Dahlstrom said she originally agreed with the proposed change because the Brookside Development was zoned high-density residential, so making Area 41 a medium-density residential buffer zone made sense.
However, when Brookside was developed as single-family residential housing and also received a zoning change, Dahlstrom said the change no longer made sense.
She also said she now believes that the concrete wall of a commercial development may provide a good traffic and street noise buffer for the residential neighborhood.
City planning staff also agree the property should remain commercial. According to a May 9 staff report on the inconsistency areas, the property, combined with the Linda Youngberg parcel at state Route 410 and South Prairie Road, could "comprise a reasonably sized shopping district" either as a single, unified development or as individual developments linked through design review.
Property owner Judy Reano said she was comfortable with a C-2 designation because changing the zoning "would be devastating" to the sale of the land.
Reano also said she believes the land is part of the SR410 commercial corridor.
The commission meets tonight, Wednesday, and the inconsistency areas are on the agenda. The city council, however, makes the final decision regarding zoning, expected later this year.
Brian Beckley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.