Sunday, January 4, 2015

Saturday night in Bothell

Sammamish Greenway Conservation
Easement at Wayne Golf Course sign
It’s Saturday night—the first one of the new year, a time to be partying on the final weekend before business as usual, or, at least, taking down holiday decorations.  Instead, I have gathered with a dozen people I don’t know in the clubhouse of my neighboring Condominium Association to discuss an upcoming meeting with our state senator. Why? Because a zoning change is imminent in our city of Bothell, and this is our chance to be heard by a sympathetic politician who is as interested in preserving open space as we are. We aren't asking our senator to intervene in our "city business," but we want her to know how hard we're willing to fight to keep our open space open, and our green space green.

On February 25, Bothell’s Planning Commission will vote on the proposed zoning change, something it had hoped to do at its December 17, 2014, meeting. Because the City Staff appeared to be endorsing the requested change, it was presumed the commission’s vote would be a shoe-in YES. Instead, with sixty-plus residents of the affected neighborhoods crowding into the meeting room to make a standing-room-only, record-breaking turnout at the hearing, the commissioners postponed the vote until February in order to get answers to the many questions posed by the attendees. 

I live in the neighborhood directly across the street from Wayne Golf Course, a public recreational facility. The holes comprising the “front nine” are part of a Conservation Easement funded by King County in 1997 (The Sammamish River Greenway Conservation Easement) and granted by the golf course owners in 1996 to the citizens of Bothell “In Perpetuity.”  In exchange for granting this spectacular legacy to my town, the owners of Wayne Golf Course received a very large sum of money (nearly $1 million) and property tax reduction of 90 percent from 1997 forward on the golf course. The property of approximately 54 acres is described in the Easement as possessing:

natural, scenic, open space, water resource, and recreational value (collectively “Conservation Values”) of great importance to Grantors, the people of the City of Bothell, the people of King County, and the people of the State of Washington. (Sec. A of the Easement)

The Easement goes on to explain:

The purpose of this Easement is to assure that the Property will be retained forever in its open space condition and to prevent any use of the Property that will significantly impair or interfere with the perseveration of the Property in its current or more natural state, and as a view corridor. (Sec. 2)

The Conservation Easement prohibits subdivision of the Property for any purpose. (Sec. 4-a)

Wayne’s owners are requesting the zoning change so they can build seventy-six new townhomes, in addition to remodeling or replacing the existing clubhouse. This would all take place in a 4.2 acre subarea of the Easement, which allowed for a clubhouse remodel in the future. (Sec. 7)

My neighbors and I are outraged at the proposal and the apparent endorsement by staff of the City. Bothell is a city that has gone on record promising to acquire additional land and protect the current greenway. We aren't talking about the pressure on the infrastructure--that's an entirely different matter. We are talking about the degradation of a view corridor, promised in perpetuity to residents of King County when seventy-six townhouses (3-4 stories high) are built on that land. Their presence will deplete parking for the users of the golf course (its existence being guaranteed in the Sammamish Greenway Conservation Agreement), and all but eliminate public access to the Burke Gilman Trail from the golf course's parking lot. We are fuming over our City’s apparent willingness to allow open space, scenic vistas, and recreational access to vanish. Changing the zoning to allow any kind of development means an irreplaceable asset is lost forever. 

No wonder I gave up my evening for this cause. I couldn't have spent a more meaningful first Saturday of the year.

Post script:  If you are a resident or friend of BOTHELL, please use this link to go to the online petition about the rezoning. 


Andrea said...

Go Sallie! (and Go the Cause! No re zoning!)

Anonymous said...

Sallie, thanks so much for articulating, so well, the long-term consequences of destroying this jewel of property in the crown of Lake Washington.

I am willing to give many days and nights to ensure that ALL of Wayne Golf Course is preserved as a recreational corridor for all of us that live and visit Washington.

Thanks so much for this blog,
Sandy Alto

Prasad A said...

Dear Sallie, Thanks a ton for writing everything about Wayne Golf course and giving an opportunity for people and families like us to read the detailed past of this land. btw, you are an amazing writer!!