Camas Council approves Lake Hills development agreement

Document sets the framework for future project

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An agreement unanimously approved by the Camas City Council last night is the first step toward developing property that could eventually become the site of up to 57 single family residences.

The development agreement between the city and property owners Arthur C. Piculell Jr. and Dee W. Piculell, sets the framework for the future “Lake Hills” subdivision, on approximately 25.5 acres of land off of Lake Road.

The development agreement was approved along with a separate settlement agreement, which marks the end of a dispute between the property owners and the city.

As part of the settlement, Camas will pay the Piculells $272,000 and give them $15,000 in Park Impact Fee credits in exchange for a 7-acre portion of property within the development for “preservation of sensitive lands.” A public trail will also be developed.

“Except as provided in this agreement, the city parcel is intended as public recreational andor natural open space with the intent of preserving large stands of trees and vegetation, while the remaining portions of the project site are intended to be cleared for development,” the development agreement states.

The settlement agreement also stipulates that the development be vested in the city’s December 2005 regulations (when the application was first filed), and that the project would be reduced from the originally proposed 80 residential lots to up to 57 residential lots that must all be single family homes.

The dispute between the city and the Piculells started in August 2008 when the city issued a “determination of significance” on the State Environmental Policy Act for the proposed Lake Hills project. The Piculell’s disagreed with the determination and filed a claim with the city in August 2011. Efforts to resolve the issue have been underway for the past several months, according to City Attorney Shawn MacPherson.

Residents of several of the neighborhoods adjacent to the proposed Lake Hills development spoke against the project. Andrew Mitchell, who lives in the Larkspur Estates neighborhood, said he is concerned about the new development’s impacts to traffic in his neighborhood — particularly at Northwest 60th and Larkspur where problems already exist.

“That intersection is very dangerous,” he said. “We are really nervous that at some point we are going to lose a life or seriously injure one of our kids.”

He said during the past few days he gathered 170 signatures of his neighbors who are opposed to the Lake Hills development agreement.

Other speakers during the public hearing echoed Mitchell’s concerns about traffic, as well as access issues, drainage from the proposed development, and impacts on the natural environment including trees and wildlife. Several people also criticized the city for agreeing to purchase the seven acres of land, which they described as “worthless.”

Councilman Tim Hazen, prior to approving both agreements, said he wanted to make sure the concerns expressed by the residents of surrounding neighborhoods would be addressed.

“I want to hear from staff and council that as a city we are committed to making sure this project is safe moving forward,” he said. “I don’t do this every day, and I want to make sure it is in line with what makes sense.”

Community Development Director Phil Bourquin said following the development agreement approval, the Lake Hills project still needs to go through the application and hearing examiner process, which are the same channels that are required of all other proposed projects. A new State Environmental Policy Act determination will also be required.

“There is a process and that is appropriate,” Bourquin said. “It is the development review process.

“There will be ample opportunity for public comment as to how the application that comes forward relates to the Camas Municipal Code,” he added.

Mayor Scott Higgins encouraged citizens to stay involved in the process.

“It’s not over,” he said. “It’s the beginning.”