Four Corners plan on the back burner for now in Maple Valley

Maple Valley’s community development staff have had a lot on their plate the past nine months or so and something had to go on the back burner.

When King County decided last October to bring Maple Valley to the table on Summit Place, better known as the donut hole, it became clear it had to become a planning priority, explained Ty Peterson, director of community development for the city.

“The key priority for the city use of community development resources and staff has been Summit Place,” Peterson said. “In asking for (a place at the table) and getting that, that necessitated significant commitment, and if we don’t commit and perform then we lost that opportunity.”

As a result the goal to adopt the Four Corners subarea plan by February wasn’t going to be accomplished given the deadlines that had to be met for the city to develop a vision for Summit Place as well as annex it among many other critical details that needed to be hammered out.

The Four Corners subarea plan would create a blue print for further development for that section of the city, which already has businesses, but has room for more, and planning economic growth is important to the city as it approaches residential build out and slow down in new home construction.

Another hiccup in the adoption process came when a decision on the northwest quadrant, which includes Maple Valley Fire and Life Safety Station 80 as well as the Motorplex and a handful of other businesses and the city-owned Legacy Site, was deferred.

In December, “the council gave direction to proceed with development of a subarea plan based on the Planning Commission’s recommendations for three quadrants,” while the proposals for the northwest quadrant were to be reconsidered.

There are three options, Peterson said, first was to not change the land use, second was to go with the recommendation made by the Planning Commission or finally go with a different proposal crafted by the City Council.

“There were two factors at play,” Peterson said. “There was a moratorium in the area. Second, we had a Planning Commission recommendation that was quite different than the existing land use. While the council was considering the planning commission recommended preferred alternative it also wanted to explore another alternative that hadn’t been considered.”

Council members suggested a pared down version of the Planning Commission’s recommendation that would require “less drastic change, essentially, and would be more in tune with what’s currently out there.”

“We went back to the consultants and said OK let’s start preparation for a subarea plan for these other areas and we need to continue to study this area with these other three alternatives,” Peterson said. “The consultants have returned a working draft for staff review and edits and that’s what we’re looking at right now.”

Another priority the council directed development staff to tackle was a handful of code changes suggested by community members that Peterson explained “the council decided are important enough that they should take short term precedence.”

Right now there is a little breathing room on the subarea plan, anyway, Peterson said because the development moratorium expired in February and interim regulations are in place until next February. At that point the decision will have to be made about what permanent regulations should be in place for the northwest quadrant.

Peterson said the community-driven code changes should take just a few months and most of the Summit Place work will be handled during the coming months in order to meet the deadlines laid out in a memorandum of understanding between the city, the county and YarrowBay which is purchasing the 156-acre property from the county to develop.

“At this point it will probably be fall before I return to council with an update on Four Corners and to seek further direction,” Peterson said.