Opposition grows to Brier housing development
November 16, 2009 · 5:31 PM
On Nov. 10, Brier City Council gave their unanimous approval to an increasingly controversial housing development located near the Brier/Kenmore border.
Known as Sunbrook, the development would place 29 lots on 13.7 acres of property along South Brier Road. The development has been challenged by at least two local activist groups both in Kenmore and in Brier and attracted some negative attention from Kenmore City Hall.
“There are some things that disturb me greatly,” said Kenmore Mayor David Baker, alleging, as have the grassroots groups, that Brier used outdated environmental rules to OK the development.
“This whole thing is very frustrating,” Baker said. “We are the ones downstream from this who are going to have to live with it.”
“I was very disappointed,” Elizabeth Mooney, president of the group People for an Environmentally Responsible Kenmore (PERK), said of the Brier council vote. She claimed the roughly 30 or so people in the audience for the meeting were not allowed to speak on the issue.
According to Mooney, Brier officials first acted to move the public comment portion of their meeting to the end of the session, then refused to let anyone address issues related to Sunbrook, citing that the public had other opportunities to comment on the question.
Brier officials, including Mayor Bob Colinas, have not returned phones calls asking for comment. Developer Phoenix Development, Inc., could not be reached.
PERK has criticized Sunbrook on a number of fronts, perhaps most notably arguing the development will add to flooding problems along a creek known mostly by its number designation, 0056. An 0056 tributary runs through the proposed development before the water eventually makes its way through Kenmore and into Log Boom Park and Lake Washington.
Along the way, the creek passes close to the Harbor Village Marina housing development in Kenmore. Chair of another local environmental group, the Sno-King Watershed Council, Eric Adman said Heritage was hit with major flooding in December. Adman, Mooney and others all have expressed concern Sunbrook only will create additional runoff into 0056 and add to existing flooding problems.
PERK and other critics also have expressed concern with the destruction of greenspace and trees that would be lost to Sunbrook.
Baker said Kenmore spent a great deal of time and a good deal of money reviewing and rewriting its critical areas ordinance, a renewal he said was required by federal law. The ordinance governs how the city deals with environmentally sensitive ares such as wetlands or watersheds.
On the other hand, Baker charged Brier has not revamped its rules since 1991.
“We’ve got some real concerns down the line... We’re getting absolutely no cooperation from a neighboring community,” Baker said. He stated Kenmore rules treat the 0056 tributary as a stream and require any development be set back a significant distance from the waterway. Once the stream crosses into Brier, Baker said the setback requirement drops precipitously.
“When it crosses into Brier, it’s a ditch and gets 25 feet,” said Gerry Pollet, a local attorney who has been representing Sunbrook’s opposition.
For his part, Baker added that Kenmore City Council had discussed the development in an executive session, but he declined to give any details on that discussion.
Earlier this month, PERK formally challenged Brier’s decision that the development is environmentally insignificant, a ruling which allowed the developer to bypass an environmental impact study.
At a hearing on PERK’s challenge, a city examiner sided with Brier. Pollet represented PERK at that hearing and was highly critical of the process.
Pollet could not be reached for comment after Brier’s most recent action.
According to Mooney, PERK and other opponents have 21 days from the date of the council meeting to file a legal challenge to Brier’s decision.
As of last week, she added PERK had not reached a decision on an appeal, stating the group might have to do some fund-raising in order to pay for an appeal.