Test pits dug out by developer Buchan Homes has resident’s in and around Sammamamish’s Chestnut Estates neighborhood up in arms.
Evan Maxim, senior planner for the city of Sammamish, said Chestnut Estates, a 34-lot development on the east side of Ebright Creek, was a very controversial plat. Buchan started the process with Chestnut Estates in 1997 and it wasn’t approved until 2010.
Now, Buchan wants to develop 30 homes in Chestnut Estates West, 85 acres on the west side of Ebright Creek.
When Chestnut Estates was developed, 8.3 acres — known as Tract K — were set aside as “permanent open space” as required by city code.
Recently, neighbors reported that Buchan dug test holes and moved dirt around on Tract K, without a permit.
Greg Nelson, project manager for Buchan Homes, said the company was digging test holes to examine soils and ground water, required as part of the application for Chestnut Estates West.
Buchan dug the test holes, however, without the required permit.
“They didn’t get a permit to do this, and they should have asked in advance,” Maxim said.
Even though it’s after the fact, Maxim said after reviewing the site, Buchan was asked to get a permit. They may be required to re-plant the area because Sammamish requires a permit for environmental exploration.
But the controversy doesn’t stop there.
The drawing for the new Chestnut Estates West plat shows that Buchan is proposing to use portions of Tract K for eight and a half lots, five and a half of which would be located along the edge of Ebright Creek Canyon.
Nelson said adjustments or modifications of property lines is not uncommon. He said developing part of Tract K protects area streams better than the old plan.
“What’s being developed is not encumbered by critical areas,” Nelson said. “Our intention is to follow the regulations developed by the city, and we’re doing our best to follow them.”
Nelson said a new open space would be created on the more sensitive ravine around the creek. Maxim said it’s about six acres.
But property owner and longtime Sammamish resident, Walter Pereyra, said Buchan bulldozed a trail onto Tract K and bore test holes, contrary to city code.
Ebright Creek runs right through Pereyra’s property off East Lake Sammamish Parkway. Pereyra has retained environmental land use attorneys, Aramburu and Eustis, to look into the situation.
“I’ve been very concerned about Ebright Creek,” Pereyra said. “It contains kokanee, which is an endangered species.”
Sammamish mayor Tom Odell said Chestnut Estates West will be reviewed by community development director Kamuron Gurol. An appeal could go to a hearing examiner, after which it is still appealable in the court system.
Odell said one of the questions is whether Buchan can switch the reserve or open space to another area.
“I’m not saying what they’re going to do,” Maxim said. “I don’t know if what Buchan is proposing is going to work.”