East Wenatchee re-evaluates open space code for developers

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Developers in East Wenatchee could cut the open space that is currently required for parks by half.  Lori Barnett – East Wenatchee Community Development Director – says developers currently are required to set aside 10 percent of land for open space but will be able to pay a fee to and reduce that to 5 percent.

Barnett says the code was initially adopted in 2015 and has provisions that require open space and recreation areas for projects that are 10 acres or larger or includes 10 lots or more.

“One of the requests at the time that we put this code together was to provide an option where the developer instead of providing the open space on the site they would actually have the opportunity to provide funds to either the city, county or park district in lieu of putting that open space on their property,” Barnett said.

This would get the developers out of having to set space aside for open space development and then having to take care of the park land, Barnett added.

“The city, county or park district would have to use the funds for some kind of capital improvements that would be reasonably related to the location of the subdivision,” Barnett said. “What ended up happening was we had a glitch with one of the project proponents wanted to take advantage of that voluntary option to provide a payment.”

Barnett said none of the jurisdictions were willing to take the funds from the project proponent, the park district had concerns with how the section was worded.

“The city didn’t feel comfortable taking the funds because the project was outside city limits,” Barnett said. “We’re not in the park business so we were really hoping the park district would take the funds.”

The park district and the city came up with an interlocal agreement where the city would manage the funds for the park district and go in and change the code to make it clear how to determine what the amount of the payment would be, Barnett said.