Homebuilder Bellevue defies riparian retreat | Nice view


The Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission will consider Wednesday, June 22 at 5:30 p.m. granting a waiver to a Riverside Estates owner that would allow him to build within 100 feet of the Big Wood River.

Tim Thomas and the Pensco Trust are looking to build at 700 Riverside Drive within the 100-foot shoreline setback required by the city. Its application, which will be presented by David Patrie, states that “many years of flooding have caused the property in question to erode, thereby diminishing the size of the area where the building envelope is located”.

Thomas proposes to build a house on a 10,780 square foot envelope and has compared his lot to his neighbors in Riverside with lots ranging from 22,000 to 36,000 square feet. Existing code would allow for 7,000 square feet of land.

Riverside Estates has been the scene of major flooding in recent years, jeopardizing city infrastructure and leading to evacuations and property damage. The setback gap would allow Thomas to build a larger house on his property that would be closer to the river at the northwest corner.

“In the time that has elapsed since the Riverside Estates subdivision was plated and approved [1981], FEMA has updated its diversion channel/floodplain mapping and the City of Bellevue has passed a floodplain flood damage prevention ordinance,” the application reads. “Strict enforcement of this order will deprive the subject of property rights and privileges enjoyed by other properties nearby and under the same zoning classification.”

Thomas said in an interview that when he bought land in 2013 he was allowed to build closer to the river.

“And then the ordinance passed,” he said. “I’m not asking for more, just or what I had to start with.”

Blaine County Floodplains Officer Kristine Hilt wrote a report on the waiver request for the Bellevue P&Z Commission.

“The Big Wood River is a very dynamic and erosive river,” she wrote. “Existing structures built close to the river are at risk of erosion and flood damage. These structures have proven difficult to access and protect during record flooding.


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