Snohomish racing to close deal with Shadowood developer

SNOHOMISH — The Snohomish City Council is holding a special meeting today to consider and likely approve a cost recovery deal for a developer before a state new law takes effect on Tuesday.

If the council doesn’t act before July 1, the proposed Shadowood latecomers agreement would not be allowed under the new law without a revision of city codes and planning documents, said Andrew Sics, Snohomish’s project engineer.

The new law concerns municipal water and sewers and how developers recoup the cost of building new infrastructure that will later benefit others. A so-called latecomer agreement is a contract between a developer and the city.

The changes to the law are complicated, and the city is still working to understand their implications, said Sics and Public Works Director Steve Schuller. That’s why they’re working to get the Shadowood deal approved before the law goes into effect, they said.

The contract up for approval Thursday is between the city and Shadowood Estates LLC. The company is developing an 82-lot subdivision, also called Shadowood Estates, at 2000 Weaver Road.

The developer is installing a new sewer lift station and about 800 feet of pipe so that the subdivision can connect to the city’s sewer system.

“Some of their improvements may benefit future developers,” Sics said.

Shadowood’s engineering and construction costs for the project totaled $591,000.

The developer and the city estimate that the lift station can accommodate 234 residential units. There are 11 other parcels in the area that could benefit from the developer’s improvements.

Each hook-up would cost $2,529, according to the agreement. Those fees would be paid by the other property owners if they want to connect to the new sewer lift station within the next 15 years.

Although the Legislature passed the new law in 2013, Snohomish officials said, they just became aware of the changes in the past few weeks.

Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1717 modifies Chapter 35.91 Revised Code of Washington in several areas.

The new law restates conditions for connection to a municipal system. It also changes the minimum length of an agreement to 20 years, which previously was the maximum duration. The Shadowood agreement is for 15 years.

The changed rules require developers to request latecomer agreements before a project is approved. Shadowood did not request its deal prior to starting construction.

The new rules also require improvements to comply with the city’s comprehensive plan and development regulations. Snohomish’s comprehensive plan does not include the pump station Shadowood put in.

“We’re still trying to understand the new law and how it’ll be applied,” Schuller said. “Everyone else is going to have to do this, too. We just happened to have a latecomers agreement on the 99-yard line.”

The City Council is holding the meeting on the Shadowood deal at 2 p.m. Thursday at City Hall. The council is expected to take action.

The city plans to update its laws to match the new state requirements in the future, Schuller said.

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; anile@heraldnet.com.

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