YarrowBay developments in Black Diamond draw comments and concerns from public

A public meeting in Black Diamond Tuesday night concerning the two YarrowBay Group developments drew a large crowd of citizens who had plenty to say.

The meeting was led by Black Diamond Community Development Director Steve Pilcher and was meant to address the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Lawson Hills and The Villages development.

About 100 people filled the City Council chambers and 32 spoke in the course of about 2-1/2 hours. Most spoke about the impact of traffic from the developments, mainly The Villages, spilling onto Green Valley Road, which extends from state Route 169 south of Black Diamond, past Flaming Geyser Park and ends up connecting to the Auburn-Black Diamond Highway near the Neely Mansion.

YarrowBay is considering connecting The Villages development to Green Valley Road as one of its access points.

The second alternative in The Villages EIS, which is the preferred alternative for the developer, calls for “4,800 dwelling units on 535 acres” with 775,000 square feet of commercial and office space. The plan also calls for 32 acres for elementary and middle schools.

The Villages is located southwest of the city and Lawson Hills on the eastside.

Lawson Hills calls for about 1,250 acres on 156 acres with 390,000 square feet of commercial and office space.

State Sen. Pam Roach, who lives on Green Valley Road, addressed the group and city officials at the meeting.

“If we have a significant amount of traffic on Green Valley Road most of us will say we do not want to die on this road,” Roach said. “We want to keep it the way it is. We would like to have something peaceful. We want to keep the nature of the road the way it is. It is something to be protected.”

YarrowBay Managing Partner Brian Ross and Director of Development Colin Lund also addressed the gathering.

“We are anxious to hear from everyone,” Ross said. “This is a long term development that will change over time.”

Lund said, “We need to look at where do we connect to Green Valley Road that makes sense.There are other ways to connect. We don’t need that connection for years.... It needs to be worked, but it doesn’t have to be worked out tonight.”

Emotions were running high at times during the night.

Many people spoke about the impact of the traffic on the wildlife living in the valley, the concerns about the water runoff, access to water and preserving the character of the valley.

“The Valley was voted into a farm preservation area and that is how we need to keep it,” David Campbell said.

Pilcher said the connection from The Villages development to Green Valley Road would go through unincorporated King County, which means the County must approve the connection before the city.

“We have not heard anything official from the County,” Pilcher said. “We are anxious to hear from them.”

Pilcher said all comments will be considered before the final EIS is completed. There will also be a Hearing Examiner public hearing on the Master Plan Development for the two projects.

An EIS is a document that studies the impact of the development on the surrounding area, including traffic. The final EIS will be used by the staff and City Council during final approval process for the two developments.

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