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RIDGE-SUNCADIA SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

RIDGE, the Roslyn-based community group, withdrew its appeal before the Washington Court of Appeals, Division III. This ends RIDGE's efforts to protect the 2001 Settlement Agreement with Suncadia Resort on August 5, 2013. On July 15, 2013 Kittitas County Judge Scott R. Sparks declared that his earlier decision had terminated the twelve year old Settlement Agreement and "all remaining claims in this action."

What is lost:
The human and natural communities of upper Kittitas County have lost an innovative contractual agreement that was the product of more than twenty years of community effort. This contract mitigated impacts of the Suncadia Master Planned Resort and defined a process for community-developer negotiations for the future.

These conditions are no longer secured by any contract or regulation:

  • A defined "footprint" for Suncadia's development—this footprint and related conservation easements protected hundreds of acres of open space within Suncadia.
  • Limits on motorized vehicle access points in and out of Suncadia.
  • Free and public access to trails within Suncadia.
  • Health insurance for resort workers and prevailing wage for construction workers.
  • Constraints on water rights sales that would limit development outside the resort boundaries, on the Roslyn Ridge
  • reduction in vesting rights for the MPR from 30 to 20 years (was to expire in 2019, will now extend to 2029)
  • reduction in vesting rights for the Cle Elum UGA from 30 to 15 years (was to expire in 2014, will now extend to 2029)

What has been gained:
During the decades of volunteer work securing and implementing the Agreement, many community members learned what can and cannot be monetized or made binding by contract.

We have also learned the power and pain of loving and staying connected with this place, our home.

These conditions are secured:

  • The City of Roslyn's 320 acre Roslyn Urban Forest, created and granted to the City by the Agreement, will remain. These lands extend up the ridge and around the City's historic cemetery and other cultural assets.
  • Senior water rights transferred to the City of Roslyn under the terms of the Settlement Agreement.
  • Restoration of fish runs on Big Creek, a Yakima River tributary.

"We believe we would prevail in our appeal, reinstating our contract. But Suncadia's implacable opposition to any cooperation, negotiation or agreement with our community and/or RIDGE would have inevitably driven future negotiations back to the courts. RIDGE has always sought real and function mitigation, not legal battles," stated President Doug Kilgore.

SUNCADIA CONTRACT COMPLIANCE

RIDGE worked with Suncadia Resort (formerly called Trendwest and then MountainStar) to enforce the contract both parties signed in 2001. The terms of the RIDGE Agreement extended beyond the initial construction and land platting period of Washington State's first Master Planned Resort (MPR) to cover ongoing operations of the resort. It also addressed limited development elements within the City of Cle Elum's Urban Growth Area (UGA).

RIDGE and Suncadia were mandated by the Agreement to hold quarterly meetings, and to address disputes through a specific dispute resolution process. RIDGE was committed to a productive, proactive relationship with Suncadia as the Agreement continues to address development impacts.

RIDGE was forced to go to court to do enforce its terms, and did so on December 8, 2009. The suit called on Suncadia to honor its 2001 contract commitment to purchase in stream water rights. In stream water rights are dedicated to the river for protecting endangered salmon habitat. Specifically the suit, filed in Kittitas County Superior Court, calls on Suncadia to spend the amount of money necessary to purchase the quantity of water rights for in stream flow that could have been purchased for $50,000 in each of the six years between 2001 and 2007, as required by the 2001 RIDGE Settlement Agreement. Suncadia has produced no evidence that it purchased the rights.

Details are in our Press Releases.

HISTORY OF THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

This Agreement was negotiated by RIDGE, on behalf of the local community, to mitigate the impacts of development both on the 6,700 acres owned by Suncadia and secondary development in Upper Kittitas County.

You can find a copy of the "Settlement Agreement Regarding MountainStar Master Planned Resort (MPR), Cle Elum Urban Growth Area (UGA) and Supporting Infrastructure and Services" in our Documents Library.

In 2004 a Second Amendment to the Agreement was signed. Suncadia negotiated with RIDGE for modifications of the original agreement to address its changing development needs. In exchange, RIDGE negotiated for Suncadia's purchase and subsequent donation of approximately 330 acres of forested lands to the City of Roslyn. These lands, located along the north and east perimeter of town, are now the Roslyn Urban Forest. They are managed by the City of Roslyn, under a Land Stewardship Plan (LSP), which was part of this Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment to the original RIDGE Settlement Agreement and the Roslyn Urban Forest LSP are in our Documents Library.

A Fourth Amendment to the Agreement was signed in 2006. This Amendment allowed the MPR to incorporate lands that were formerly the site of the Nelson Dairy. Some of these lands were added to the MPR’s "buildable footprint." Significant portions were added to open space that will managed for wildlife, habitat, and passive recreation in perpetuity (as part of the Stream C Corridor that continues on to the Cle Elum River).

The Fourth Amendment to the original RIDGE Settlement Agreement is in our Documents Library.