Proposed changes to Brandt property in Maple Valley draw support, criticism
By TJ MARTINELL
Covington Reporter Reporter
September 19, 2012 · Updated 10:13 AM
A public hearing on proposed zoning changes to the Brandt property in Maple Valley Sept. 10 drew a mixture of support and apprehension.
First to speak was Bob Castagna, who represents the Brandt family. He stated zoning changes are necessary in order to attract a developer to the property.
“During the (Maple Valley-Black Diamond) Chamber informational meeting I was asked to come up within my vision for the community,” he said. “I think there could be…something special on this site.”
Catasgna stated he envisions an employment center on the property that provides living wage jobs, in addition to an apprenticeship training program with ties to the Tahoma School District for students who don’t plan to attend college.
“There’s a concern in this community the city has very little to offer young adults,” he said. “What a way to help our youth. It’s a much better solution than a movie theater or bowling alley.”
At the same time, he said, the development can be done in such a manner that it preserves the environment. Bringing in a large employment center, he said, would also usher in complementary businesses, such as restaurants or hotels.
“This is going to happen in the Puget Sound region,” Castagna said. “Why not Maple Valley?”
The Maple Valley City Council is considering proposed zoning changes to the 50 acre piece of land, located northeast of state Route 169 and Southeast 240th Way. The proposal initially drew criticism from residents near the property who had concerns about the possible effect on traffic and the appearance of buildings which could potentially go up there.
Speaking in support of the proposed zoning changes was Phil Kitzes, a professional land use planner, who urged residents present at the meeting to allow the changes to be made.
“No one really likes change,” Kitzes said. “They hear it, they get scared. This is the development state….I just urge everybody to sit back and let the zoning go through for these people.”
Several people who spoke, however, expressed concerns that the development would rob the area of its beauty and cause unwanted environmental impacts. One resident suggested a 200-foot “greenbelt buffer” between the developments and residential homes, a proposal which was mentioned repeatedly during the City Council’s Aug. 27 meeting.
Sue VanRuff, executive director of the Maple Valley-Black Diamond Chamber, suggested a part of the problem residents have is that they are not hearing the same thing from the council as the chamber has.
“We’ve had the benefit of hearing some exciting stuff, the opportunities of economic development,” VanRuff said. “The conversations have been very different. I think it would be really helpful to define some of that and change the dynamics of the conversation a little bit. No one wants to have their greenbelts decimated.
The property is owned and zoned for development. Those are investments we made for particular uses. The new zoning creates exciting opportunities and I’d like to hear some more of those.”
At its Aug. 15 meeting, the Maple Valley Planning Commission voted to recommend the zoning changes.
Contact Covington Reporter Reporter TJ Martinell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-432-1209 ext. 5052.