A Blog About the Environment, Land Use, Preservation, Politics and Life, In and Around Shoreline, WA
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Monday, September 12, 2011
Save Richmond Beach Announces Major Lawsuit Against Point Wells Development
In a press release today, the non-profit "Save Richmond Beach"announces it has filed litigation against BSRE (Blue Square Real Estate) and Snohomish County, in partnership with the town of Woodway.
The non-profit was formed in reaction to the BSRE proposal to build nearly 3000 units of housing, which would be larger than Richmond Beach itself. There is only one access road, Richmond Beach Drive through Shoreline, and yet Shoreline would have no means of funding the needed infrastructure to accomodate such growth.
An important meeting will be held tomorrow night (Tues) by the RBNA (Richmond Beach Neighborhood Association) to discuss the situation and reaction to the City's current position to "negotiate".
To offset the cost of legal fees, in addition to the expense of hiring environmental and transportation experts, Save Richmond Beach will be asking the community to pay a membership fee.
“We have budgeted out our strategy for the next couple of years and the only way we can execute those strategies is by asking the community to help,” says Caycee Holt, founder of Save Richmond Beach. “The neighborhood feels very strongly about this issue and this is the best way to allow the community to participate in a meaningful way.”
If you would like to contribute to their organization or contact them you can send a donation to: Save Richmond Beach
Action has Statewide Significance for Growth Management Act and Environmental Protections Richmond Beach, WA., September 12, 2011 - The Town of Woodway and Save Richmond Beach, an organization of Shoreline, Woodway, Edmonds and Seattle citizens, announced today that they filed suit against Snohomish County and BSRE-Point Wells, the developer of a controversial condo/retail project, over development plans for the former refinery site on Puget Sound in unincorporated Snohomish County. At the heart of the conflict is a 2009 decision by Snohomish County - which altered its Comprehensive Plan policy and land use map - to allow the re-designation of Point Wells from Urban Industrial to Urban Center, the most dense development classification available in Snohomish County. In order to carry out the Urban Center designation, the County also adopted ordinances which amended its development regulations for Urban Centers to accommodate the proposed re-development of Point Wells. The County’s actions, which were undertaken at the request of the developer, would pave the way for a high-density urban development at Point Wells. The Town of Woodway, Save Richmond Beach, and the City of Shoreline filed an appeal with the Growth Management Hearing Board (“Board”) challenging the County’s ordinances as well as the State Environmental Policy Act (“SEPA”) process utilized by the County. Among other things, Woodway, Save Richmond Beach, and Shoreline argued that the Point Wells site did not have adequate access or urban infrastructure for such a large development, and that Snohomish County had not adequately resolved conflicts with neighboring jurisdictions. The Board agreed and found that the County’s designation of Point Wells as an Urban Center violated the Growth Management Act (“GMA”) and was declared invalid. The Board also found that the County failed to comply with SEPA with respect to the Comprehensive Plan amendments as well as the amendments to the development regulations. The Board ordered that the County comply with both GMA and SEPA. After the hearing, but a few weeks prior to the Board’s decision, BSRE - Point Wells filed applications to subdivide the Point Wells property and develop it as an Urban Center with approximately 3000 condominium units and 100,000 square feet of retail space. Under the GMA, if an applicant submits a completed permit application prior to a Board decision, that application is considered “vested” to the regulations in question and the applicant may be able to proceed with the permit process under those regulations – even if they’re subsequently found to be invalid. Both the County and BSRE-Point Wells consider the BSRE-Point Wells permit application complete and therefore vested to the ordinances that were found invalid under GMA and void under SEPA. Thus, despite the Board’s strong ruling rejecting the Point Wells Urban Center designation, the County continues to process the BSRE-Point Wells permit application under the invalid ordinances adopted in violation of the SEPA. “Snohomish County’s approach would allow development projects to vest to ordinances that have not only been found to be invalid under the GMA, but have been adopted in violation of the processes required by our state’s environmental laws – and that’s dangerous precedent.” Zach Hiatt, Graham & Dunn attorney representing Save Richmond Beach. The vesting issue of GMA is not new to policy makers in Olympia and has been taken up by the Washington State legislature over the past few years. State Senator Adam Kline has tried several times to make Washington’s vesting law more like those in most other states, where building rights aren’t locked in until construction starts. “Members of Save Richmond Beach appreciate the value of responsible development that benefits both the economy and the environment,” said Caycee Holt, Director of Save Richmond Beach. “We also fully understand and appreciate the value of and assurances that vesting provides to developers. However, in this case we are very concerned about Snohomish County and the developer’s apparent efforts to exploit the vesting rules to negate critical environmental protections.” “This lawsuit seeks to address a local problem, but it is also part of a broader conversation about planning, environmental considerations, and sound public policy in our region,” said Hiatt. “And it’s a call for Snohomish County and the developer to respect the Growth Board decision and engage the local community in a meaningful discussion that can lead to a win-win outcome at Point Wells rather than more litigation.” "If the developer and Snohomish County would like to address our issues regarding the scope, density and transportation issues related to the site, we welcome a meaningful conversation about how to create an economically-viable, appropriately-sized development for that location," said Holt.
Save Richmond Beach is a 501 (c) 4 non-profit organization with a mission to promote responsible and sustainable planning. For information visit us at www.saverichmondbeach.org
• Douglass Squirrel sighted in Briarcrest by Chris Southwick Feb 2012
• Cottontail Rabbit sighted in Briarcrest Neighborhood Nov 1st. Did not look like a domestic "bunny!"
• Coyote spotted in Paramount Park Meadow, just sittin'. 3/11
• Varied Thrush sighted in Paramount Park Neighborhood 2 & 3/11
• Townsends Warbler photographed in Highland Terrace Neighborhood 1/11
• Blackheaded Grossbeak sighted near Paramount Park last Fall
• Great Blue Heron sighted at Hidden Lake in Boeing Creek basin
• Barred Owl sighted in Thornton Creek Park #1 near Jackson Park, 8/10
• White crowned sparrow identified in Highland Terrace/Aurora Square neighborhood
• Blackheaded Grossbeak sighting in Hillwood neighborhood
• Two Raptors sighted in Shoreline. Osprey and Merlin have been documented at Ronald Bog and Echo Lake respectively this summer (2010)
• Pacific Chorus Frog heard in Shoreline's Hillwood Neighborhood
• Three types of warblers identified in Briarcrest neighborhood in May and June
• Red Breasted Sapsucker Banded in Briarcrest Neighborhood of Shoreline
• 4/16 - Mating pair of Pileated Woodpecker seen yesterday in Paramount Park. They were utilizing some "snags" (dead trees) which were placed in the wetland restoration area with a KC Wildlife Habitat Grant in 2002. The Pileated Woodpecker is considered a "Priority Species" by WDFW. The pairs mate for life and make their nests in cavities they excavate in dead trees with their sharp beaks. They eat insects and grubs they find in the dead wood.
• Great Blue Heron seen today at Thornton Creek Par #6 eating two fish in five minutes. It's interesting to note that it took many years to get the City of Seattle to realize that there are fish living in Thornton Creek, only 2-3 blocks from Northgate. In the design of the Thornton Creek Water Quality Channel at Northgate, fish passage was a non-negotiable issue. The Great Blue Heron is considered a Priority Species by WA State.
• River Otter Spotted at Kruckeberg Botanic Garden! The Garden does not have a river running through it, so we were startled to see what appeared to be a river otter (Lutra canadensis) passing through recently. River otters live in rivers, streams, and coastlines. With water repellant fur and webbed feet, these playful members of the weasel family are designed for swimming and catching fish, their main food. However, they often wander far from water in search of a mate or new living area, surprising the unsuspecting staff of botanic gardens. The Kruckeberg Garden is near the headwaters of Storm Creek.
• Wood Ducks seem to be happily proliferating at Thornton Creek Park Six near Northgate. With the help of stewards, beavers and other species, habitat is improving at this little "wild" urban paradise. Despite a jungle of invasives there is a wetland habitat (improved by beavers) that suits the Wood Ducks. Today, 13 were sighted in the branches of a fallen cottonwood. 13 Wood Ducks Today!
• Beaver families have been moving in and building habitat around our urban watersheds, especially into Thornton Creek. Here is a photo a "creative engineer" naturally utilizing the creek corridor at Thornton Creek Park #6, which is a wetland waiting for better "engineering".
• At least 40 bird species have been sighted at Paramount Park over the last 20 years and more. The Barred Owl is one visitor who is watching over us.
• 12 birds at Greenlake today including Western Grebe, Bufflehead, Great Blue Heron and Hooded and Red-breasted Merganser
Janet proudly served on Shoreline City Council, from 2005-2009 and is an outspoken, current environmental and preservation activist residing in Shoreline, WA. Over the past 20 years, she and many other partners have succeeded in many remarkable accomplishments for the environment and community. On the City Council, she helped spearhead many environmental achievements for Shoreline, giving Shoreline a "green city" profile. She is a founding member of Paramount Park Neighborhood Group, Thornton Creek Legal Defense Fund (which advocated for and succeeded in "daylighting" Thornton Creek at Northgate), South Woods Preservation Group, Lake Ballinger Forum, Sno-King Economic Gardening group and other efforts. She serves on the Advisory Board of Friends of Fircrest, and is a member of Shoreline Chamber of Commerce and Shoreline Solar Project.
Janet holds an Art degree from Moore College of Art, Phila, and runs an arts business for 30 yrs. She also is sales rep for Appel Farms dairy at Seattle Farmers Markets.
Janet and her wonderful, patient husband, Alan Worthington of 32 yrs have two grown sons, Travis and Spencer.