By Mitchell Roland

During Tuesday’s (April 6, 2021) Kent City Council meeting, it was revealed that an application to adapt a land-use designation was withdrawn by the developer, while the council formed a committee to plan how the city will spend $28.41 million in stimulus money.

Land use designation withdrawn, annexation a possibility
The proposal, which would have changed 13.2 acres of land on Lea Hill in the comprehensive plan land use map designation from urban separator to low-density multifamily homes, was discussed during the council’s two previous meetings.

The proposed action intended to allow housing on the four parcels of land, and any proposal to re-zone the land would still need approval by the city council. Possible zones could include single-family housing with eight units per acre, low-density multifamily housing, medium-density multifamily housing or townhomes.

Kent’s Chief Administrative Officer Derek Matheson said the developer, OakPointe, has indicated they might bring the proposal back to the council next year. Matheson also said that Mayor Dana Ralph and Auburn’s Mayor Nancy Backus, as well as city department heads, will meet on April 14 to discuss the potential annexation of the land.

While the land is in the city of Kent, it is surrounded by the City of Auburn.

“The goal is to get moving in earnest on deannexation from Kent and annexation to Auburn, so we will keep you posted on how those talks progress,” Matheson said.

If Oakpointe resubmits its proposal for the 2022 cycle, the council would approve the initial list of applicants in the fall, and then it would come before the council and the Land Use and Planning Board in spring of 2022.

Neighbors of the property who spoke at previous meetings voiced complaints on an increase in traffic, potential damage to nearby wetland areas and concerns that business development on the land had been originally promised to neighbors.

Stimulus committee formed
The Kent City Council has formed The American Rescue Plan Framework Committee, with Matheson saying the goal of the committee is to “recommend a high-level framework for investment of Kent’s $28.41 million in federal recovery funds.”

The money that the city receives must be spent by the end of 2024.

According to the agenda packet from the meeting, the “committee will consist of the Mayor, two councilmembers, the Chief Administrative Officer and Finance Director.” The first meeting of the committee will take place on April 8.

“Once Council approves a framework, the City will need to identify specific investments that fit into the framework,” the agenda packet reads.

911 operators designated as first responders
During the meeting, Mayor Dana Ralph proclaimed that the phone operators at the Valley Communication Center 911 are “elevated to the status of First Responders who serve our community.”

“This is really in recognition of the amazing work that our call receivers and dispatchers do every day when our community members are having a crisis,” Ralph said during the meeting. “They’re the first ones to be there in that voice of calm and reason on the line.”

Ralph said this declaration came after federal legislation to amend the designation stalled.

“Whereas recognizing our 911 PSTs for the critical role in emergency response cannot and should not wait for the passage of the 911 SAVES ACT and believes that these local actions will help support and further similar legislation that 911 PSTs deserve,” the proclamation reads.

The proclamation states that the Valley Communication Center handles over 616,000 and 472,000 dispatchable phone calls a year. The proclamation says the dispatchers “are highly trained professionals who work under a uniquely stressful environment.”

“Valley Com 911 PSTs are the first of the First Responders providing life-saving pre-arrival instructions, triage, mediation, de-escalation and the calm presence on the telephone and radio that is focused on both responder and public safety,” the proclamation reads.

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