Sammamish Planning Commission prepares for big change in personnel

The seven members of the Sammamish Planning Commission are fast becoming some of the most influential residents of the city.

The seven members of the Sammamish Planning Commission are fast becoming some of the most influential residents of the city.

In terms of activity that will shape the future of the Plateau, in 2009 the planning commission was where it was at. The volunteer group made crucial recommendations relating to, among other things, housing development on shorelines, what the proposed Town Center should look like, and what builders must do to mitigate the environmental impacts of development.

Like city councilors, planning commission members serve four years, and the staggered rotation of a few members of the commission every year has the potential to alter the direction of development and planning in the city.

On Dec. 31, 2009, the terms of three commissioners, Scott Hamilton, Mahbubul Islam and Erica Tiliacos will come to an end. Vice chair Richard Amidei, whose term does not expire until the end of 2011, has decided to step down.

Hamilton and Tiliacos have already announced they will not seek reappointment, but Islam has thrown his hat in the ring again, joining a list of 16 other candidates for the four positions.

This compares to 11 applicants for one vacancy in 2008, and 10 applicants for four vacancies in 2007.

This growing interest in the planning commission mirrors the growth of the city and what appears to be crucial period for town planning ahead of an anticipated crossover of city expenditure and revenue in coming years. It has led many to declare that Sammamish needs greater retail and commercial opportunities.

At the same time, environmental concerns and a growing awareness of the need to better manage stormwater runoff has piqued interest in planning decisions. The frequent conflict between property rights advocates and homeowners, and those looking to lessen the impact of human development on natural resources, was in evidence during Shoreline Master Program (SMP) negotiations in 2009, the meetings for which often filled city hall’s council chambers to capacity.

A number of the residents involved in that process are among those seeking selection to the planning commission, include Mike Collins, one of the key organizers of the extensive citizen involvement in the SMP process.

Examination of the resumes of the 16 applicants reveal a wide range of backgrounds, including architecture and building, real estate, accountancy, environmental consultancy, business to business management, and IT and software development.

Warrick Ashley, formally of MulvannyG2 Architecture in Bellevue, David Hanson, who this year founded his own resource management firm, and Robert Sorenson of MacPherson Construction and Design in Sammamish, are examples of candidates with high levels of expertise seeking appointment to the commission.

Architect and planner Jeff Wasserman also went into business for himself this year, specializing in retail and small office projects.

Jason Coppola, Frank Blau, and David Spinelli boast extensive careers in the IT industry, while CJ Kahler is a retired pharmacist with a few years involvement in Sammamish Rotary.

Linda Eastlick, Kathy Richardson and Ramiro Valderrama have all built careers around business development and resource management.

Brent Jones is a geologic engineer, and Suki Otal is a metallurgical engineer and the chairperson of the Washington State boiler inspectors association. Jones served on the City of Issaquah’s River and Streams board for seven years, and was elected by the City of Sammamish as a public and technical reviewer of the development of its Draft Comprehensive Plan.

Business owner Mike Rutt, who ran for city council this year, has applied for the commission, as has antitrust attorney Joe Lipinsky. Since unsuccessfully applying for the commission in 2007, Lipinsky has taken several classes with the Washington State Bar Association dealing with the Growth Management Act, land use, impact fees and zoning.

The four successful applicants will be chosen following a period of interviews and deliberation by the city council.

As has happened in previous election years, the selection of the new commissioners was delayed to allow for the new councilors to take their place at the first meeting of the new year, scheduled for January 5.

The new commissioners will join Stan Bump, Jan Klier, and current chair Tom Vance on what will be a new-look commission.

Early in the new year the Planning Commission is due to hand over its recommended Town Center zoning and development regulations to the council for their consideration.

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