Letters to the Editor

Real estate broker's view on Twin Lakes | Federal Way letters

Over the last few months, I have tried to get as much accurate information as possible about the failing financial health of the Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club, and the likely "fallout" if it goes out of business.

I have lived in, and been a real estate agent, then co-owner and broker of Twin Lakes Realty for the past 34 years. For me, the outcome is very important. It should be for you as well. Both the "yes" sides and the "no" sides of the equation are projecting probable outcomes, but really no one knows for sure what will happen. I would suggest, with sincerity, that for those homeowners who want an input in the outcome, the Feb. 6 vote (or Feb. 4 deadline for your proxy) is likely the last chance you have to be part of the solution one way or another. After that, the golfing members will do what they feel is appropriate and they legally own the country club and golf course.

There have been may claims of "scare tactics" on the part of the "yes" movement. I do not want to "scare" anybody, but I am a real estate professional and homeowner here, and I am legitimately concerned. If I thought nothing would or could go wrong with a no vote, I would not be concerned.

I have attended all the "town hall" or informational meetings I am aware of. At the first town hall meeting at the country club, I heard Wayne Carlson speak. He sits on the Federal Way Planning Commission, as well as being a part of the firm AHBL, a civil engineering and community planning firm. It seemed to me his information was that our fairways would be a likely target for single family residential development because it is currently zoned (RS7.2) for that purpose. He also indicated that 10 percent of that area could be zoned "high density" for zero lot line development like condos. Being as this is what he does for a living, I see no reason to challenge his authority.

At that same meeting, the attorney for the HOA, Dave Huhs, spoke from the legal end of the argument. Although he admittedly did not do a complete legal search of all legal filings (because of the expense to do so) he was pretty confident from his preliminary findings it was "likely" the land could be developed. He is aware of the claims made by the "no vote" committee. I believe he is likely correct more so than those who, without concrete evidence to the contrary, insist he and the engineer are wrong.

In a "no" vote circular making the rounds a point is made that the current Northshore ruling favoring non-development should indicate a similar outcome for us.

What bothers me with this thought, is why did it take savenetacoma.com three years and $300,000 of donated legal fees to discover this anti-development "magic bullet?" Is it possible a "no" vote could lead us down the same path? It those owners did not fear a detrimental real estate value reversal, why did they dig into their own pockets for $300,000 to fight development? Remember that was money spent without any guarantees. Furthermore, Northshore was developed in a different county and city than Twin Lakes by different developers under different rules and filings and many years apart. How we can now assume the two courses are Siamese twins on one rather unique and obscure legal concept?

In that same circular, "no" vote proponents give us this web link. This will give you access to the News Tribune article that describes the recent Northshore legal findings. If you take the time to read it, about halfway through, it brings up two interesting facts. The first is the attorney(s) for the group (now nearly $300,000 richer over three years) agrees this decision could be appealed and further notes the developers sought a rezone in 1981. The developers wanted to downsize lot requirements to increase their profit. When granted, it came with the stipulation that the neighborhood "will maintain and always have the use of the adjacent golf course for its open space density requirement." My question is, do we have the same language protecting us, "always?" If we do it is hidden from our preliminary review. We simply do not have three years and $300,000 to find out. I would rather have the amenities proposal approved and $25 per household per month makes the problem go away.

My point is this. The club now pays $90,000 per year in taxes on the fairways and greens that were declared "open space" in 1978 but now show up on the plat maps (online under City of Federal Way) as RS7.2. I have Twin Lakes maps 28, 48 and 53 with me at this exact time. These maps clearly show the fairways are zoned exactly as the part of the map that shows individual homes. Why? If you don't believe me, go online and look them up yourselves.

I am not an attorney, nor do I claim to be one, but I have personally talked to the Federal Way planning commission, King County tax assessor's office, the attorney for the HOA and the civil engineer/city planner, all of whom tell me they cannot find anything "on the surface" that outright bans the sale of the golf course to developers. I have no reason to disbelieve them. I am the sort of person that likes to choose his own destiny, and I hope you are the same. If you are, a "yes" vote is the right thing to do; a "no" vote allows somebody else to determine what becomes of our unique and currently desirable neighborhood.

Be an informed homeowner. Call your Realtor and ask if the Twin Lakes Country Club ceases to exist, could it adversely affect your home values? Then ask if a $25 per month fee that entitles future owners to have access to those facilities would likely enhance the value of your home upon resale of refinancing it. I would then vote accordingly.

Mark Templeman, Twin Lakes

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