READ LETTERS: Battle lines drawn over Summit Place between YarrowBay and Maple Valley
By DENNIS BOX
Covington Reporter Editor
July 10, 2009 · Updated 9:47 PM
A dispute over the annexation and development of Summit Place, better known as the donut hole, has evolved into a tough-talking battle between the developer and the city of Maple Valley.
Sharply-worded letters were sent to the King County Council from YarrowBay Managing Partner Brian Ross and Maple Valley Mayor Laure Iddings concerning the annexation of the property.
YarrowBay is in process of purchasing the 156-acre site for $51 million from King County. The property is located near 228th Avenue Southeast and Southeast 272nd Street.
The City Council approved a resolution June 22 authorizing City Manager David Johnston to “execute the Interlocal Agreement” between the city and the county adopting a joint plan for Summit Place.
The Council passed the resolution on a 6-1 vote with Councilman David Pilgrim dissenting.
The agreement is to go before the County Council, and if it passes and the city signs it, the annexation of the site could be completed by the end of the year.
It is at this juncture where the dispute boils to the surface.
Ross sent a letter to all the County Council members and one to Harold McNelly from King County Real Estate Service. In the letters he protested certain aspects of the interlocal agreement and annexation process.
Ross stated in the letter YarrowBay objects to King County and the city signing an interlocal agreement allowing Maple Valley to annex without consent from the developer.
In the letter to McNelly, Ross wrote: “Maple Valley’s annexation of the Summit Pit Property will substantially change the character of the property and have considerable impact on future use and development.”
In the letter to the county council members Ross wrote: “Unfortunately, County staff gave in to Maple Valley’s demands and agreed that a development agreement would not be a precondition to annexation and that the County does not need Yarrow Bay to consent to annexation.”
He added later in the letter: “We support the joint plan and annexation but we are concerned that that document alone doesn’t provide enough certainty that, if annexed to Maple Valley, the property can be developed as contemplated by our purchase and sale agreement. We are concerned that the density and commercial development provisions of the joint plan can be circumvented by the City of Maple Valley.”
A response letter from the city, signed by Iddings, was sent to the county council members dated July 6.
The letter outlined the city’s position in clear and at times very pointed language.
“You will notice that Mr. Ross’s June 30th letter attempts to paint Maple Valley’s intentions in a very unfavorable light; however, this characterization is simply contrary to the facts of the last nine months....”
Mr. Ross and/or his staff has been requesting for months that the City enter into a development agreement and they have made it clear that they want the agreement in place prior to annexation...”
Our citizens have clamored for a voice in the planning for a development of this site, and they deserve to know what the environmental review documents would reveal about the impacts of such a large development.”
The mayor’s letter also noted “the City is aware that rumors are circulating that Mr. Ross’s company might terminate the purchase and sale agreement.” The letter pointed out the interlocal agreement removes “a great deal of uncertainty regarding the development potential for this site.”
A source with knowledge of the dispute said YarrowBay is particularly concerned with the infrastructure cost. What the developer wants is specific information about what the city will demand from the company in terms of building the infrastructure, this includes roads, sewer, water and parks.
According to the source, YarrowBay is threatening to pull out of the project, but there is a question whether this is a negotiation tactic to put the squeeze on the city and county.
The city’s position as stated in the letter is for the county to, “not back away from commitments and goals as stated in the MOA (memorandum of agreement).... The King County Executive and his staff emphasize repeatedly that annexation of urban area is a goal of the county. This property should not be treated differently.”firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-425-432-1209 (ext 5050).