Woodway and community group sue over proposed Point Wells condo project

The Town of Woodway and a community group filed a lawsuit Monday against Snohomish County and a developer over a proposed high-rise condo project on Puget Sound.

The suit seeks to stop county planners from processing Blue Square Real Estate’s application to build the 3,081-unit project. Before any development goes forward, Woodway and Save Richmond Beach want the county to rewrite part of its zoning regulations.

“Our goal all along is to reduce the size of the project,” Woodway Town Administrator Eric Faison said. “Obviously, if we prevail in this project, it will have a significant result as to whether they’re able to proceed.”

The lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court names as defendants the county and BSRE Point Wells, a local company that’s part of Blue Square Real Estate, which belongs to an Israeli conglomerate.

The legal maneuver by Woodway and Save Richmond Beach comes just as the city of Shoreline, which, like Woodway, borders the disputed site, is trying to negotiate with the developer. The city has asked Blue Square for an agreement to help it with a future annexation of the property.

As of Monday, county attorneys had yet to be formally served with the complaint.

“When we’re served with it, we’ll sit down, review the complaint and determine what our next steps are,” Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor Jason Cummings said.

Gary Huff, an attorney for Blue Square Real Estate, said he had not yet seen the complaint.

Point Wells is a century-old industrial site that hosts a marine-fuel depot and an asphalt plant. It’s surrounded on three sides by Woodway. Though it sits entirely within unincorporated Snohomish County, the only way car traffic can reach it is a two-lane road in Shoreline, which is in King County.

Leaders in both Shoreline and Woodway have expressed interest in one day annexing the property.

Chief among the neighbors’ concerns are traffic and how the development would change the character of the area of upscale single-family homes.

Monday’s lawsuit follows an April ruling by the state Growth Management Hearings Board. The board decided that the county failed to follow state growth laws and its own policies when it allowed a type of high-density zoning called an urban center at Point Wells.

By the time the board issued its decision, county planners had already accepted the developer’s initial application. The county and the developer have said the project is locked in under the old rules.

Among other points of contention, the board considered the transit access to Point Wells.

Unlike other urban centers, Point Wells has no highway or freeway running nearby. The county said its urban centers code allowed Point Wells to count the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks as a high-capacity transit route. There are no definite plans by Sound Transit to build a rail station there. BSRE representatives, however, have offered to build a station.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

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