The Kent City Council agreed with two East Hill property owners that their assessment fee should be reduced by thousands of dollars for street, water, sewer and other improvements along 116th Avenue Southeast.
The Council voted 4-0 Nov. 18 to reduce one property assessment fee from $60,000 to $40,000 for Local Improvement District 359. The Council reduced a second property assessment fee from $11,000 to $8,000.
“Thank you,” said Linda Swanson to the Council after the vote that reduced her mother’s assessment fee by $20,000.
Swanson spoke at a public hearing before the Council on behalf of her mother, who owns property along 116th Avenue.
The city completed a $7 million project last June to widen 116th Avenue to five lanes from two lanes between Kent-Kangley Road and Southeast 256th Street.
Grants and city funds paid for most of the project. Property owners formed a Local Improvement District to pay for a portion of the project. City staff set a final assessment at $1.3 million.
Swanson argued that her mother’s property could not be sub-divided into three lots, as claimed by city staff, because of wetlands on the property.
“This has been a long burden,” Swanson told the Council. “The LID process has dragged on for more than two years since the city first came to my mother’s house.”
Potential buyers of the property back out when they see a wetland, Swanson said.
The Council agreed with Swanson that an easement from the city would be needed for a third lot to be developed on the property.
“An easement for the third lot is needed, but two lots could be improved, so we reduced it,” Council President Debbie Raplee said of the lower fee.
Norma Yonce had her assessment fee reduced by $3,000.
“I must go 1 1/2 miles to turn into my house,” Yonce said of the street improvements that caused her to drive out of the way in order to access her house.
State road crews installed curbs in the middle of Kent-Kangley Road near 116th Avenue Southeast. Because of those curbs, Yonce cannot make a left turn while eastbound on Kent-Kangley Road into her driveway.
City staff claimed because the state installed those curbs, the assessment still applies to Yonce for improvements to 116th Avenue.
But Councilman Tim Clark pointed out to staff that those improvements by the state would not have been done if the city had not widened 116th Avenue near the intersection with Kent-Kangley Road.
“It was crystal clear the curbing impact could not occur without the improved capacity to 116th,” Clark said on the reason to reduce the fee. “It was an inconvenience to the property owner. There was a loss.”
Protests by two other property owners were denied by the Council. Property owners on the 19 lots in the Local Improvement District will have their annual payments for the street and sewer improvements spread over 15 years, starting in 2010.