Mayor Neil Johnson said Friday he was not sure when the issue would be brought back before the Community Development Committee (CDC), but added that it could be a long process before the proposal returned to council.
This was the final paragraph of Daniel Nash’s March 26 article regarding a proposed amendment to the WSU Forest development agreement being returned to the community development committee after council raised concerns at the March 19 Bonney Lake City Council workshop. The amendment would allow for an additional traffic signal on state Route 410 at 204th. This would be a reversal of the development agreement passed in December 2009.
Guess what? The Quadrant/Weyerhaeuser contingent of Pete Lymberis, Allison Moss, Mike Read and Scott Dahlquist were guests at the April 2 CDC meeting. They brought their diagrams and explained the need for the signal, basically rehashing the discussion of the February 19 CDC meeting. At the February meeting Mr. Lymberis came up with as many reasons why the signal should be installed as Public Works Director Dan Grigsby provided as many reasons why it may not be feasible. The April 2 CDC minutes state:
Mr. Lymberis said a bias in favor of an Eastown big box store by some council members could result in millions of lost revenue to the city. He said owners of big box stores find the area east of 214th Ave (Eastown) undesirable because it is not a “destination location.” He said the market should be allowed to determine what stores are built where. Council member Randy McKibbin confirmed that he had also heard this from prospective businesses. Council members (Katrina) Minton-Davis and (Jim) Rackley also agreed to this philosophy.
Mr. Lymberis would like to meet one-on-one with the Council members Hamilton, Lewis and Watson to answer their questions and explain the benefits to having a light at 204th.
Council member McKibbin said he is all in favor of having another north-south route available with other routes already at capacity. He indicated he was in favor of extending 204th Avenue through the Cedarview and down the hill to Sumner-Buckley highway when Cedarview is redeveloped.
I am sorry, how can adding another signal on SR 410 at 204th benefit traffic flow in Bonney Lake? I contacted both Gov. Jay Inslee and WSDOT Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson to find out. Lynn Peterson responded by letter to me April 4. She said:
WSDOT has not changed their stance on adding a signal in this location. Currently, traffic lights at South Prairie Road and 208th are little more than a half-mile apart. This location also has concrete median barrier preventing left turns onto or from the state highway which is an important safety feature of the highway. WSDOT will only the support of the addition of a new, non-signalized right-in/right-out intersection.
At the April 16 CDC meeting, Council member Watson attended in place of Council member Rackley. He asked how much money has the City lost with the fee reductions in the past year and if housing revenues are up with the reduction. Community Development Director Vodopich stated commercial hasnÕt seen development take advantage of the fee reductions. Watson asked if the fee reductions can continue or will it cost the City too much.
Director Vodopich is not sure if the increase is because of lower fees or if it is the cheap price for land. There is an expiration date on the reductions; the City Council would have to renew the reductions.
Council member Minton-Davis mentioned that if the fees go back up builders will complain.
Council member Watson would like to discuss the fee reductions at workshop before they expire.
Director Grigsby reminded the committee that traffic impact fee money is needed to fund major projects. Even with grants and loans the city still needs to pay for part of the projects. He listed upcoming projects at 214th and SR 410 as well as SR 410 and Veteran’s Memorial Drive.
Basically, you cannot rob Paul to pay Peter. Incentives dip into transportation revenues. They can cause further gridlock in Bonney Lake and cause a ripple effect with regards to other projects. Safety is at stake. Do you want a livable Bonney Lake, or be another South Hill? Are Cedarview residents willing to sell their property? Or will this be another situation of condemnation of homes, like Main Street where it intersects with 182nd Avenue?
This is the first part of a two part column. Next week, the importance of attending council meetings and workshops, or at the very least listening to the audio for discussion on this topic.