Council checks in on status of proposed Sambica Activity Center rezone

The application for the rezoning was filed on Feb. 25.

The Bellevue City Council is mulling the potential rezoning of the Sambica Activity Center, a summer camp and retreat center.

Bellevue’s land use director updated the city council at its Sept. 3 meeting.

The center, located at 4114 West Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast, is currently zoned as Neighborhood Business District (NB), Single-Family Residential (R-5) and Multi-Family Residential (R-20), and is made up of parcels totaling 7.62 acres.

The application for the rezoning, which is categorized as a quasi-judicial process III application, was filed by Sambica ministries director Ryan Gilbert on behalf of the center on Feb. 25, 2019. The rezone is being proposed in order to function in the Camp and Conference Center’s (CCC) comprehensive plan designation, which enables the Sambica Activity Center to develop and improve facilities that are in line with the standards mapped out by the plan.

“This rezone will provide consistency with the comprehensive plan,” said Liz Stead, Bellevue’s land use director.

The current comprehensive plan was adopted by the city on Aug. 3, 2015, following two years of public outreach. Covering a 20-year period, the plan acts as a foundational document for Bellevue’s growth and development through the enaction of new resources and programs.

The application for a rezone is in response to a Feb. 17, 2009, comprehensive plan amendment (Ordinance No. 5859) that created a new CCC zoning designation. In 2014, city council amended and then approved the Bellevue Land Use Code in order to make the rezoning a possibility. Gilbert’s application, which was published on March 28, 2019, specifically calls for a rezoning from its current zoning locations to CCC.

A public meeting hosted on April 8, 2019, had low attendance but saw residents speak in favor of the rezone and redevelopment plans. Since the meeting, the city, according to the hearing examiner’s summary provided for the Sept. 3 meeting, has not received any comments that evince a negative reaction to the potential rezoning.

The Sambica Activity Center, still awaiting approval for the rezone, has submitted applications for a design review and master development plan.

On June 6, 2019, the city released a recommendation and staff report approving the rezone. On June 27, 2019, the hearing examiner also issued a recommendation for the approval.

Stead said at the meeting that the proposed rezoning meets the criteria necessary to execute a rezoning, including a shown substantial relationship to public health, safety and welfare and proven merit and value to the wider community.

The activity center has been operating since 1919 and operates as a non-denominational retreat and Christian camp location. Typically, it’s busiest during the summer season, during which it offers about 10 weeks of a multitude of camps.

The council did not have any questions about the rezoning. Approval from the council will likely occur at the Sept. 16 meeting.

For more information about the proposed rezoning and its history, see the hearing examiner’s summary online (