Council takes action on two Enumclaw development projects

With one housing development springing to life on Semanski Street, another longstanding proposal was granted a last-minute reprieve.

A planned conversion of nearly 10 acres of vacant land into 37 residential lots was addressed Feb. 22 by the Enumclaw City Council. With plans for the project set to expire the following day, the council took steps to keep the project on the books for another four years.

Plans for the Semanski Farms development landed in the city’s lap in 2008 and were approved in 2009. The project calls for 37 single-family homes with all the necessary infrastructure – things like streets and sewer lines. The process moved through city channels just in time to be derailed by the economic downturn that crushed the housing industry.

With things looking up, the project sponsor intends to get rolling. The city has been told construction should begin next year and be completed in 2018.

On the evening of Feb. 22, the assembled council had two options: the existing plan could expire, forcing the development to start from scratch; or, the council could declare an emergency, bypass some normal procedures, and extend the preliminary plan already on the books.

The council chose the second route, giving the developer another 48 months.

“This is a time for Enumclaw to step up and be friendly to developers,” Councilwoman Juanita Carstens said, moments before the extension passed 5-1.

The dissenting voice came from Councilwoman Kimberly Lauk. Requiring the developer to go through the application process again would mean some new regulations would have to be met, she said.

The acreage in question fronts Semanski Street and is directly north of the Liberty Meadows subdivision, now under construction.

In other action during their Feb. 22 meeting, council members:

• heard from Michelle Larson, the city’s recreation manager, who told of improvements coming to the community garden.

The garden, commonly known as the Pea Patch, consists of 27 small parcels that are made available to citizens for a modest rental fee. The garden is on city-owned land directly behind the public library.

Larson explained that garden organizers have proposed an exterior fence and an additional water source. The group landed a $10,000 grant from the Satterburg Foundation to pay for the work.

Both Larsen and City Attorney Mike Reynolds assured the council all improvements are designed to be temporary. It’s assumed the land will be developed in the future.

“It’s one of those win-wins for the community,” Larsen concluded.

• approved a two-year contract with Krista White Swain who will continue her work as the city’s Municipal Court prosecutor.

Reynolds has held that responsibility since 1980, but turned the prosecuting duties over to Swain during the latter part of 2015. It was part of a plan that would allow someone new to transition into the role while allowing Reynolds to serve as a mentor.

Reynolds has maintained his contract with the city and paid Swain to perform the prosecutor’s duties. With the council’s vote on Feb. 22, Swain takes over the contract, which calls for payment of $4,000 per month, plus additional payment for work done outside regular court hours or in other courts.

Swain performs the same duties for other cities in the area and has earned positive reviews during her time with Enumclaw. A memo to the council from City Administrator Chris Searcy notes he has received “very positive feedback from the court staff and police department” with regard to Swain’s performance.