Editor's note: The following press release is from Save Richmond Beach.
This coming Wednesday, October 10th, the Snohomish County Council is meeting to vote on whether to loosen the county’s development requirements for an Urban Village and then change Point Wells’ land use designation from Urban Center to Urban Village. This is in response to a ruling by the Washington State Growth Board that deemed Point Wells an inappropriate location for an Urban Center.
We believe the county has gone too far in loosening the development requirements so as to allow the developer the density they require without taking into consideration the extreme effects the development will have on the surrounding communities. We have teamed up again with the City of Shoreline and the Town of Woodway and proposed some amendments that will reasonably strengthen the requirements, and we believe, help create sound policy for the County.
The developer, Blue Square Real Estate (BSRE), has also proposed an amendment that will even further loosen the development requirements for an Urban Village.
For those new to the issue, the Snohomish County Council voted to change Point Wells’ land use designation from Urban Industrial to Urban Center several years ago. This was so Blue Square Real Estate could build more than 3,000 dwelling units at the site. The proposed development contained 19 buildings that were 10 stories or more including several that were 18 stories tall.
The development was completely out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood and the designation as an Urban Center violated several of Snohomish County’s own land use policies. It was for this reason that Save Richmond Beach, the City of Shoreline, and the Town of Woodway joined together to appeal the land-use change to the state Growth Management Hearings Board. The board agreed with our appeal, invalidated the Urban Center designation, and ordered Snohomish County to start over.
In the meantime, the developer rushed in a development application to attempt to “vest” to the new and now illegal development regulations. The vesting status is not valid at this time as we were able to secure an injunction in King County Superior Court. The developer has appealed that decision. There will be another hearing in the Washington State Court of Appeals regarding this separate issue in November.
Snohomish County’s Response to the Growth Board
To comply with the Growth Board, Snohomish County has proposed changing the Point Wells land-use designation to Urban Village. However, to accommodate the unique characteristics of Point Wells they have proposed drastic changes to the development requirements for an Urban Village. The changes proposed by the County read like a wish list for the developer. They remove any size restrictions on Urban Villages, double the number of dwelling units allowed per acre from 22 to 44, all while reducing the transportation requirement for even the largest Urban Village to the single requirement that it be located on a minor arterial street. No transit requirements at all.
Save Richmond Beach, Shoreline, and Woodway all agree that it makes no sense to allow larger, more dense Urban Villages (almost the same size as an Urban Center) while removing the transportation requirements that would help to mitigate the impacts of a dense down-town style development. It is for this reason that we had our policy experts review the language proposed by the County and submit amendments that leave the reduced transportation requirements in place for small Urban Villages but imposes increased transportation requirements for larger Urban Villages.
The developer's amendment on the other hand increases the height limit by 2 stories and increases the number of dwelling units per acre to 48. If the County passes this amendment the developer would be allowed to build almost the same number of dwelling units as their originally proposed Urban Center, while having to meet virtually no transportation requirements.
However, we believe that the Growth Board will not be fooled by the smoke and mirrors of simply re-naming an Urban Center an Urban Village and allowing the same density. It would be in the best interest of the County to think logically about the changes, as sound policy will not only build a better future for the County, but will also help all parties move towards a positive resolution of this issue.
The council meeting is October 10th at 10:30 AM at the county government complex in Everett.
Henry M. Jackson Board Room
Robert J. Drewel Building (Administration Building East)
3000 Rockefeller, Everett.
It would be great if you could testify in person, but it you can’t you can still send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org if you submit them before Wednesday. Faxed documents may be sent to (425) 388-3496.
From the County's Web site:
October 10, 2012; 10:30 a.m. Public Hearing
Ordinance 12-068, acting to comply with the final decision and order issued by the Growth Management Hearings Board Central Puget Sound Region in combined Case Nos. 09-3-0013c and 10-3-0011c; amending the future land use map and zoning map designation for the Point Wells property; amending the centers and small area and neighborhood structure sections of the land use chapter of the Snohomish County Growth Management Act Comprehensive Plan General Policy Plan and adopting new definitions in the glossary.
(Continued from September 19, 2012) Testimony will be limited to that relating to the amendments set forth in the document linked below.
Amendment Packet for both Ordinance No. 12-068 and 12-069
October 10, 2012; 10:30 a.m. Public Hearing
Ordinance 12-069, acting to comply with the final decision and order issued by the Growth Management Hearings Board Central Puget Sound Region in combined Case Nos. 09-3-0013c and 10-3-0011c, amending Snohomish County Code Sections 30.31a.100 and 30.31a.110, adopting a new section in Chapter 30.31a SCC and repealing SCC 30.34A.085.
(Continued from Septembe 19, 2012) Testimony will be limited to that relating to the amendments set forth in the document linked above.