A map of the Eastlake Sammamish Trail plans. The South Sammamish A segment was recently completed and a grand opening was held in January. (Image courtesy of King County)

A map of the Eastlake Sammamish Trail plans. The South Sammamish A segment was recently completed and a grand opening was held in January. (Image courtesy of King County)

King County to appeal denial of permit for Eastlake Sammamish Trail development

After several public hearings, a hearing examiner denied King County’s permit application to complete the final leg of the Eastlake Sammamish Trail. However, King County is now appealing the decision to the Shoreline Hearings Board in order to finish the trail.

A permit from the city of Sammamish to begin construction of the paved trail would allow the county to continue to connect its 11-mile paved trail system that runs from Redmond and Issaquah along Lake Sammamish.

Kevin Brown, director of the Parks and Recreation Division at King County, said trail development was broken up into five segments, the fourth of which was just recently completed in January. The only remaining segment is “South Sammamish B,” a three-and-a-half mile stretch that goes from SE 33rd Street to the intersection of Parkway NE and NE Inglewood Hill Road.

The East Lake Sammamish Trail runs along a historic railroad route that is owned by the county. Brown said the county acquired the trail in the late 1990s through the “rails to trails” program and the development of a connected trail system has been in the county plans since the 1970s. The railroad corridor is about 100-feet wide along the 11-mile trail, Brown said.

The footprint for the trail, he said, was developed by relying on national standards and would be 18 feet wide, with 12 feet of paved trail and two feet on each side for soft shoulder use and a one-foot clear zone on each side.

King County submitted a permit application to the city, but was met with resistance in regards to some of the permit requirements such as overall width of the trail itself. The county appealed those decisions to a hearing examiner in November 2017.

Because this proposed development falls under the Shoreline Substantial Development Plan, it is subject to a public hearing session, said Melanie Anderson, Sammamish city clerk. A hearing examiner determined the ruling on the permit application after receiving testimony from both the county and the city, as well as citizens of Sammamish.

On Jan. 5, 2018, John E. Galt, the hearing examiner, denied the county’s permit application to develop the trail. The Examiner’s report, which took into consideration almost 8,000 pages of documents, studies, and public comments, ruled that the county’s application was incomplete due to not depicting all of the buildings and utilities in the area around the trail path.

“The Examiner concludes that the County’s application was incomplete because the site development plans lack all information required for a complete application… Specifically, they do not depict any utilities and may not depict all structures in the vicinity of the proposed construction,” Galt wrote.

Some of the homeowners along the trail also opposed the county’s application because, in the years before the trail, homes and other private property such as stairs, driveways, docks, boat launches, and landscaping had extended into the county’s right of way in the railroad corridor. Galt addressed this issue as many of the public comments he received were from these homeowners.

“In many cases, those improvements pre-date King County’s acquisition of the ELST right-of-way; they were apparently installed during the railroad’s control of the right-of-way, when the railroad apparently didn’t care what people did within the right-of-way so long as it didn’t adversely affect the single rail line that ran through the right-of-way,” he writes.

However, Galt said that those issues are unrelated to this matter because King County is able to demonstrate it owns the right of way and the Examiner “cannot deny or condition an otherwise compliant SSDP application to avoid impacts to things which lie within the ELST right-of-way and, thus, within the control of the applicant.”

The resolution of the property right conflicts must be resolved in another forum, he concluded.

The Examiner’s decision is subject to reconsideration and appeal through the State Shoreline Hearings Board, which Brown said the county will pursue as the next step. Brown said the information the Examiner determined was missing was in fact in the application and the county will appeal his decision.

“The timeline would probably be late spring early summer in which would get in front of the shoreline hearings board,” he said. “This is consistent with what happened with the last phase of the trail, we ended up in that Shoreline Hearing Board and were quite successful.”

Brown said the completion of the trial will be a boon to the area and will help improve access between Redmond, Sammamish and Issaquah. Promoting access between the region through biking, jogging, and walking.

“We feel it’s great amenity not just to the community but the region,” he said.

More in News

Issaquah, EFR, Ecology, finalize report on PFAS in the city

A report on chemical impacts to the Lower Issaquah Valley is being finalized by the city.

King County’s $5 million derelict boat problem

When a boat sinks, it costs a lot to bring it up, with millions being spent since 2003 on removals.

Issaquah asks citizens what they want in a city administrator

The opinion of the citizens will play a factor in the hiring process of a new city administrator.

Issaquah residents file for November 2019 general election

Residents in the city of Issaquah and the Issaquah School Districts have… Continue reading

King County Councilman Reagan Dunn sent a letter to the FBI asking for them to help investigate Allan Thomas (pictured), who is under investigation for stealing more than $400,000 of public funds and skirting election laws in an Enumclaw drainage district. Screenshot from King 5 report
King County Council requests report on special districts in wake of fraud allegations

Small, local special districts will face more scrutiny following Enumclaw drainage district case.

Issaquah High School employee one of five confirmed with measles

School urges families to monitor children for signs.

The Marquee on Meeker Apartments, 2030 W. Meeker St. in Kent, will feature 492 apartments and 12,000 square feet of retail. The first phase of 288 apartments is expected to be completed in early 2020. Developers are targeting people in their 20s and 30s to rent their high-end, urban-style apartments. Steve Hunter/staff photo
Housing study pokes holes in conventional wisdom

High construction and land costs will incentivize developers to build luxury units.

Madison Miller / staff photo 
                                Jerry Blackburn, program manager for Substance Abuse and Prevention Services with Friends of Youth and soon-to-be executive director for Influence the Choice, gave a presentation to Issaquah parents about the dangers of teen vaping.
Smoking is out, Vaping is in: ITC educates parents on effects of teen vaping

Influence the Choice hosts talk for Issaquah parents about the effects of teen vaping

Hospital workers support HB 1155 to implement uninterrupted rest breaks and provide limitations on the use of additional on-call work. Courtesy Photo
Legislature passes break and overtime protections for health care workers

Washington State House and Senate have passed HB 1155 providing hospital workplace improvements.

Overdose deaths continue to rise locally and nationally

This may not be the same opioid epidemic anymore.

Issaquah City Hall. Photo courtesy of Joe Mabel
Issaquah partners with Forterra to create green space stewardship plan

The Green Issaquah Partnership aims to create a 20-year environmental management plan.

King County International Airport, also known as Boeing Field. Photo courtesy of kingcounty.gov
King County airport operators will stop serving ICE flights

Three companies at Boeing Field have indicated they will not service deportation flights.