The Point Wells industrial area next to Woodway, where a developer proposes to build more than 3,000 condos. (BSRE Point Wells)

The Point Wells industrial area next to Woodway, where a developer proposes to build more than 3,000 condos. (BSRE Point Wells)

Snohomish County Council poised to uphold Point Wells denial

A developer attempting to build 3,000 waterfront condos sought to overturn a recent hearing examiner decision.

EVERETT — A developer seeking to build more than 3,000 condos along Puget Sound in south Snohomish County is on the verge of losing a key appeal.

The County Council is preparing to vote Monday to uphold a hearing examiner decision to deny the high-rise project. The council last week considered testimony from an attorney for developer BSRE Point Wells. About 20 neighbors and city officials from Woodway and Shoreline spoke against the project.

Jack Malek, a real-estate broker in Shoreline’s Richmond Beach neighborhood, likened the project to “a Wall Street-inspired pump-and-dump scheme” and alleged that BSRE has misused a land-use doctrine known as vesting.

If approved, BSRE’s plans call for 46 buildings at Point Wells, which has been in industrial use for more than a century. Almost half of the proposed buildings would exceed 90 feet, with the tallest reaching 180 feet. Construction would take place in phases, over a couple of decades, after an extensive environmental cleanup. The unincorporated parcel covers 60 acres.

The council considered 16 issues in BSRE’s appeal and weighed each against county land-use regulations. They voted 4-0 to draft paperwork to affirm examiner Peter Camp on each point. They are preparing to modify one part of Camp’s June ruling, but said it would have no effect on the outcome. Councilman Terry Ryan was absent.

BSRE wanted more time to complete its permit application, which has been pending for more than seven years and expired in June. The examiner declined to grant an extension.

The examiner also rejected BSRE’s request to double the allowable building heights to 180 feet. For that to be possible, BSRE would need to demonstrate access to high-capacity transit.

The developer has suggested meeting that requirement by building a Sounder commuter-rail station on the property, though evidence shows little progress toward making that a reality.

“The mere fact that Point Wells has a rail line going through it doesn’t mean that the residents of that site would have access to that network,” said Julie Ainsworth-Taylor, an assistant Shoreline city attorney.

Ainsworth-Taylor said Shoreline’s joint traffic study with BSRE has reached an impasse and that officials in her city have had trouble getting “accurate and reliable information from BSRE.”

The appeals process is likely to continue in Superior Court. Gary Huff, an attorney for BSRE, said he is consulting with the developer.

The council is set to vote on its written decision to deny BSRE’s appeal during its regular 10:30 a.m. meeting Monday.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@herald Twitter: @NWhaglund.

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