Shorelines Hearing Board Issued Decision on ELST: Remand SSD Permit Application Back to the City for Approval and Issue

We were just made aware today that on November 7, 2018, the state Shorelines Hearings Board made their decision regarding the Shoreline Substantial Development (SSD) permit for the final segment of the ELST (See previous post for background) The order consisted of 3 parts.

1. The Hearing Examiner’s decision, dated January 5, 2018, is reversed. (In that decision the Sammamish City Hearing Examiner denied the Shoreline Substantial Development Permit (SSDP) for segment 2B, the final segment of the trail, without prejudice because the 60% design plans on which the application was based were, in his opinion, incomplete. Denial without prejudice allowed the County to resubmit the application after incorporating the missing information. But instead they chose to appeal as they felt they had given sufficient information.)

2. The Board remanded the Shoreline Substantial Development Permit Application No. SSDP2016- 00415 to the City to approve and issue a shoreline substantial development permit in accordance with the Board’s decision.

3. All of the City’s proposed conditions that both the City and County agreed to will be included in the approved permit, but Conditions 3, 4, and 9 that were not jointly agreed to will be omitted. (Condition 3 required the County to identify all structures or improvements on non-County land that would be removed or relocated and provide written permission from the owner to remove or relocate.) (Condition 4 stated in certain areas the County was not allowed to develop the trail any closer to the water than the existing interim trail which probably would have required narrowing of the trail.) (Condition 9 required the County to Provide an updated Critical Areas Study that addressed how trail narrowing has been implemented where a critical area was impacted.)

Other important findings of the Board:
• The Project avoided the removal of significant trees whenever possible and the Project area will be revegetated.
• The County’s choice of trail width is justified and reasonable in this case. It is reasonable for the County to design the Project to accommodate an increase in demand. The Board also shares the safety concerns raised by the County. Finally, the County has fully mitigated for Project impacts and trail narrowing should not be necessary to comply with mitigation sequencing requirements.
• The County has already avoided or minimized impacts to critical areas and has proposed compensatory mitigation for unavoidable impacts. The wetland areas identified in proposed Condition 9 are not of sufficient extent or ecological value to support compromising public safety by narrowing the trail or to justify further County evaluation at this late stage of Project development.
• With regard to the transportation element of the Project, transportation setback requirements expressly exclude trails. (Related to Condition 4)

The decision can be viewed here.

It would appear given the recent federal property rights lawsuit that was settled in the County’s favor as well as this decision by the Shorelines Hearings Board, permitting of the last segment should be in order. But we have not heard from the City or County yet about next steps. We will keep you posted when we know more. In the meantime, enjoy another victory toward the completion of the East Lake Sammamish Trail!