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Council discusses options for proposed sewer project
Seventeen people – mostly from the city’s East Town area – flocked to a July 7 Bonney Lake City Council workshop to hear discussion about a proposed sewer project.
Originally, the item was at the end of the agenda, but was moved up by Councilman David Bowen’s request.
Public Works Director Dan Grigsby said legislation was passed that affects latecomers’ agreements to construct utilities, facilities or infrastructure.
Washington State House Bill 1513 goes into effect July 26 and clears the way for cites to adopt ordinances that allow them to participate (partially or fully) in financing water, stormwater or sewer projects.
Under the measure, cities have the right to seek reimbursement from property owners as property is developed.
The reimbursement is limited to a period of 15 years or less, which can be extended under certain circumstances.
Grigsby noted that HB 2146 was also passed, extending the reimbursement period for the latecomers’ agreement from 15 to 20 years.
He said if the council utilizes the latecomers’ agreement, there is no provision under the city code to use it.
Grigsby also asked if the city uses the agreement, would the council delay other projects by using the sewer or water system development charges.
He said the city can fund the projects fully with sewer and water SDC fund balances or use future SDC revenue and pay projects off over time. The director said the city can partially fund a project with a developer, or the developer could pass the cost on to the latecomers.
Whether under the East Town latecomers’ agreement or the low-impact development study, Grigsby said the city has to determine what the fair share is to charge each property owner.
“Under the latecomers’ agreement, the individual property owners doesn’t have to pay until the development is connected and start using our systems,” Grigsby explained.
“With a LID, they have to start paying once it’s adopted by council and normally it’s a 10-year period because the council will go after a 10-year bond.”
The city can establish a latecomers agreement without approval of all property owners.
Grigsby said a proposed LID for East Town is for water and sewer. He said if the city install a water line on 96th Street, people in the city or county, can connect to the line.
Valley Water and Tacoma Water serve most of East Town, while Bonney Lake serves the remaining area.
Councilman Mark Hamilton said some East Town property owners will get either sewer or water.
Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman said he would like to take input from some of the East Town property owners.
Grigsby said public hearings have taken place during each step of the proposed project and more are needed.
Bowen said under the new project design, it will service all the East Town properties.
The council will discuss the item further.
The council also discussed a proposed ordinance to update the Critical Area Code allowing reasonable use of properties mostly or entirely covered by wetland.
John Vodopich, Planning and Community Development director, said case law prohits jurisdictions from denying all use of private property and that development regulation for Critical Areas such as wetlands are often in conflict.
Under city code, the city has alluded to reasonable use, but thus far, hasn’t provided an administrative process for property owner to develop their property that is mostly or entirely covered by wetlands and their buffers.
If the ordinance is approved, applicants would be required to apply for a Critical Areas Variance, conduct environmental and critical area studies demonstrating the extent to which development is reasonable on their property.
Applications would be decided by an hearing examiner.
The ordinance has been through the Planning Commission, Vodopich said.
The ordinance also provides minimal process by the property owners who have wetlands or buffers on their property can enhance the areas with vegetation. Vodopich stated it would require minimal staff review to ensure that the proposed plantings are appropriate to wetland environments.
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