North Bend homeowner fears zoning will force him out

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by MEG COYLE / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @MegCoyleKING

KING5.com

Posted on March 19, 2013 at 6:53 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 19 at 7:42 PM

Seven years ago, Peter Nissen made a calculated move - trading life in the big city, for life out in the country. Or at least, out in King County.

"It feels like you're living a, kinda little Mayberry sometimes," said Nissen.
 
But then his home and several others along this road were annexed into North Bend. Peter soon learned-- he wasn't in Mayberry anymore: "It didn't really occur to us that they were going to include houses that were already built into the new commercial zone."
 
His two acres, once zoned for home or storage, are now deemed more commercial than country. So when the city put in a new sewer line Nissen and his neighbors wound up paying commerical sized prices.

"Comes out to about $25,000 that I have to pay," said Nissen.
 
Nissen's property and four others border 60 acres of land city leaders see as a big development opportunity. The land is for sale and it's been vacant for years. But because of its zoning, Nissen and the others have become commercial by association.

"And he said, 'well, you have this speciaol benefit now because we've changed the zoning and you can now develop the property as commercial,'" recalled Nissen in a conversation with the city's public works director.
 
The problem-- Nissen and his neighbors have no intention of doing so.

"We're going to use it the same as the houses right across the street which get charged $3,000."
 
The city says that doesn't matter. North Bend's city administrator, Londi Lindell, says state law requires appraisers base zoning on "best and highest use," and that the city had long planned to zone it commercial even before annexation. Lindell says zoning the four properties commercial makes them worth more, which is why Nissen and the others must pay more than the residential development across the street.
 
Lindell also said Nissen has the option to petition to have his property re-zoned, something that would drop its value but also likely reduce his sewer bill.

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