Everett joining other cities to fight lawsuit seeking limits on shoreline development

Everett is one of a dozen cities joining together to fight a legal threat that could make it impossible to develop along shorelines.

The National Wildlife Federation filed a lawsuit against a federal agency, concerned it wasn’t doing enough to prevent development in areas with vulnerable wildlife.

That worries Everett officials, who are concerned about the ability to develop areas economically vital to the city such as the Port of Everett’s Riverside Business Park and part of the city’s multimillion-dollar planned riverfront development.

Everett and other local cities including Mount Vernon and Burlington are working together to hire lawyers and “to explore all legal and other avenues” to avoid losing the ability to develop.

The matter was rushed in front of the Everett City Council on Wednesday for approval so the city could move forward with hiring a law firm, which is expected to begin filing paperwork in response to the wildlife federation’s lawsuit.

“We think that’s too broad of a net being cast,” assistant city attorney David Hall told the council Wednesday. “Everett already has pretty detailed regulations.”

Everett follows local and state rules for building near shorelines. Those rules include a biological assessment to make sure there is “no net loss” to fish habitat.

The wildlife federation’s lawsuit is against the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administers the national flood insurance program.

City officials were already concerned about proposed requirements from FEMA that would make it more complicated and expensive to develop by shorelines. Many of the areas potentially affected have been developed and diked for decades, and the tightened rules are better suited to pristine wilderness, they said.

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197; dsmith@heraldnet.com.

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