Reconsideration Hearing for Panther Lake Ridge
We had the hearing on reconsideration of the Previous Hearing Examiners findings on a remand from the County Council of our battle to make sure that the Panther Lake Ridge developers follow the law and put their development in right.
I've generally refrained from blogging about these hearings in the past, on the theory that as a participant in the hearings I would be a biased observer, but I would like to present an overview of the hearing and the situation. And the fact is that this blog is a biased observer of everything.
We have been fighting this battle for almost three years. The original application for a 32 lot Rural Cluster subdivision was filed in 2004. We (Three Lakes Neighbors for Responsible Growth - TLNRG) organized ourselves, hired a lawyer, and contested the application. Over the years we have forced the developers to make a lot of changes in their plans to more closely meet the legal requirements, gotten to know our neighbors pretty well, raised a lot of money from ourselves and others to help pay our legal bills, and poured a lot of coffee at Interstate Rest Areas.
I feel like I have spent more time at the County administrative building than any other place except home and work over the last three years.
Today's hearing was over reconsideration of a narrow issue. The county code requires that the lots in a Rural Cluster subdivision be mostly invisible to the outside world. If there is other buildable land available, lots must be built on that land first and not on a highly visible feature such as a ridge. In this case, the developer wants to build the lots on a ridge, at says that their is no other buildable land available. We say that there is buildable land available, and many of their lots should be built on that land and not on the ridge.
The issue really boils down to the definition of a ridge and whether some of the buildable land off the main ridge is also located on "ridges". The question is: what is a ridge? and if these areas are "ridges" can you build on them. This gets down to the question of what topographical elevation is required to make a ridge and a ridgeline. The main ridge has a fairly steep topographical elevation difference of almost 100 feet, while the lower "ridges" are flatter and have a topographical elevation difference of only 20 feet spread out over a wide area (for all practical purposes almost flat).
We have made our arguments; the developers have made theirs, and the matter is in the hands of the Deputy Hearing Examiner. We should know his decision within two weeks. I'll let you know.