Phyllis Hopkins, left, and Debbie Wetzel at the site of the Cathcart Crossing project on Sept. 22, in Cathcart. Hopkins is one of 13 neighbors who was left out of the loop about a public hearing and comment period for the proposed development, an appeal alleges. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Phyllis Hopkins, left, and Debbie Wetzel at the site of the Cathcart Crossing project on Sept. 22, in Cathcart. Hopkins is one of 13 neighbors who was left out of the loop about a public hearing and comment period for the proposed development, an appeal alleges. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

County Council dismisses appeal over Cathcart Crossing

Neighbors in south Snohomish County had filed the appeal over plans for 286 townhomes at Highway 9 and Cathcart Way.

CATHCART — The Snohomish County Council unanimously dismissed an appeal Wednesday over a proposed 286-townhome development in the Cathcart area.

An appeal hearing began last week and finished Wednesday.

Residents had filed the appeal in August over plans for Cathcart Crossing at the intersection of Highway 9 and Cathcart Way, south of Snohomish. The project proposed townhomes, a fast food restaurant and a mini-storage lot.

The county hearing examiner approved project plans in July, following a public hearing in June.

In their appeal, residents alleged a purchase and sale agreement between the county and applicant was not made public until the hearing in June, among other arguments. Another issue was whether 13 neighbors who requested to be parties of record were left out of the loop.

“The public has not been properly informed of decisions involving development of the Cathcart South property,” argued attorney Rick Aramburu, representing the appellants, at the appeal hearing on Oct. 5.

The 31-acre property was owned by Snohomish County until July. The county sold the property to Pacific Ridge-DRH for $8.5 million, following the approval of the townhome plans.

The appeal alleged the county’s failure to disclose the pending real estate transaction concealed plans for a linked park-and-ride facility at property to the south. The county should review the two projects together, the appeal argued. The attorney for Pacific Ridge-DRH countered: “There is no error in the hearing examiner’s decision,” she said Oct. 5.

The hearing was continued on Wednesday, after the council asked for more evidence. It specifically asked if the purchase and sale agreements between the county and Pacific Ridge-DRH were available to the public before the hearing in June.

Cathcart Crossing project site along Highway 9 on Sept. 22, in Cathcart. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Cathcart Crossing project site along Highway 9 on Sept. 22, in Cathcart. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Staff returned with an answer: Yes, they were available. Several members of the public submitted records requests to obtain the documents before the hearing in June, staff said Wednesday.

In light of the new evidence, the council voted 5-0 to dismiss the appeal, affirming the hearing examiner’s decision.

Council Member Jared Mead said there was “no bad faith or deception in how notice was provided,” in reference to the allegation that 13 neighbors were left out of the loop.

Mead said council members have “limited flexibility” in reviewing land-use appeals. He said the council must analyze the facts within the framework of county code and state laws and not consider policy or public opinion.

He acknowledged the effort of residents who filed the appeal.

The county has long eyed development of the Cathcart South property. It’s part of several hundred acres of vacant public land that was part of an old landfill.

Residents who filed the appeal have argued the county promised them a different vision: an urban village with shops, grocery store, restaurant, senior housing and trails — a concept described in the county’s comprehensive plan. The proposed development with several hundred townhomes and a storage facility fell short of residents’ expectations.

The issue was brought up at the hearing Oct. 5. Council Chair Megan Dunn stated the council would not consider evidence not included in the written appeal documents.

Jacqueline Allison: 425-339-3434; jacqueline.allison@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @jacq_allison.

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