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King County: Transfer of Development Rights Protects 700 Acres Around Sammamish

Officials said the Patterson Creek watershed will be protected because of this action.

More than 700 acres of rural forests and pasturelands in the Patterson Creek watershed near the city of Sammamish will be permanently protected under an innovative Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) agreement signed by King County Executive Dow Constantine.

“Our partnership with the helps create a compact, vibrant urban landscape with walkable neighborhoods and abundant green space,” Constantine said. “What’s more, we are creating this healthy urban environment while at the same time preserving forests and farmland in nearby rural areas.”

Sammamish joins a growing list of cities to partner with King County on its TDR strategy that links smart growth development inside cities with rural farm and forest land protection. The county’s newest goal is to develop a critical mass of partner cities to achieve protections across the landscape while steering development growth inside cities.

King County is now partnered with Bellevue, Issaquah and Sammamish on TDR efforts. On-going dialogue with many other cities could lengthen this list over the coming year.

Under the TDR agreement – brought to fruition by the county and the city of Sammamish, with help from the Cascade Land Conservancy – private developers can purchase development rights from rural properties in Patterson Creek to build additional square footage in commercial and residential projects in Sammamish’s new Town Center.

The Town Center is a 240-acre development area in the heart of Sammamish, where city leaders recently completed a planning process that resulted in zoning changes to accommodate new development and transform the land into a compact mix of residential, office and commercial uses. The TDR component makes Town Center the Puget Sound region’s latest “smart growth” ambition.

“Town Center is a great example of how economic development and land protection can fit together to benefit the community,” said Sammamish Mayor Don Gerend.

“Protecting land that offers the opportunity for a trail system for all to enjoy the natural beauty of Patterson Creek open space, this agreement furthers our efforts to enhance Sammamish residents’ quality of life and grow a vibrant, urban community in our new Town Center,” he said.

“The City Council's action is clear evidence that they are thinking beyond the immediate municipal boundaries to the city’s connection with the region and the areas that make Sammamish such an attractive place to live,” Constantine said.

This approach to land conservation is also championed by the Cascade Land Conservancy (CLC) in its work to implement its Cascade Agenda, a 100-year vision and immediate action plan that advances an array of cutting-edge programs that will conserve lands and landscapes and develop communities for future generations.

Underscoring the growing interest and momentum behind TDR initiatives, the Washington State Legislature passed a bill, introduced by the CLC during the 2010-11 legislative session that affirms TDR as a growth management tool and provides cities with new tax increment financing tools to accept development rights and protect rural and resource lands.

More information on King County’s TDR Program is available at http://www.kingcounty.gov/TDR.

-- This information is from a King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks news release issued on Friday, Aug. 19.

Dr. John Galvin August 23, 2011 at 10:46 PM
Private developers have shown no interested in Sammamish's Town Center. The City's town center plan has no economic feasibility. The City Council rebuffed landowners who sought to work with the city to develop an economically feasible project that might attract investment. Council members, Nancy Whitten for example, claim that getting the town center going is their top priority but they are unwilling to create a plan that can work. Their public statements in support of the town center are cynical manipulations intended to cover up their decade long attempt to stop town center development. Unfortunate that articles such as this fail to provide the public with accurate information. TDR programs only work if there is economic incentive for a developer to purchase development rights. The Sammamish Town Center does not create any economic incentive for development. Nothing is happening in the town center and nothing will.
Valerie Spiegler August 26, 2011 at 04:40 PM
I would have commented sooner on this article about the TDR agreement, but the earthquake here prevented me from reading my email until now. Once I finished reading, I threw my hands up in the air and said to myself "so what?" (This was before I read John Galvin's comment). This agreement means absolutely nothing when the City is still insisting on a town center plan that from the beginning was unfeasible and is irrationally defended by a do-nothing and, refuse to do anything, council and city administration. As Mr. Galvin said, any public statements made by this council, in supposed support of a town center, are simply "sop" to the community. In the true scheme of things we still have an unworkable plan; disinterested developers; a refusal by our Council to consider a plan that COULD work; and now a useless TDR agreement that gives them reason (so they think) to puff up their chests and say "see, we are moving right along". I try not to think about my property and my retirement held hostage by a Council totally dismissive of the damage they have caused and continue to inflict on so many residents of Sammamish. Valerie Spiegler Alexandria, VA

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