Woodway readies possible annexation of Point Wells

Shoreline also has designs on the land, where a developer has proposed thousands of condos.

WOODWAY — The town of Woodway could soon move to annex Point Wells, the waterfront property where a developer has been trying, unsuccessfully, to build high-rise condos up to 17 stories tall.

There’s a rival suitor, though, with the city of Shoreline also taking steps to claim the unincorporated piece of land in Snohomish County that’s an ongoing source of neighborhood anxiety.

Woodway has scheduled a hearing at 7 p.m. Nov. 5 about starting the annexation process.

“We would like this annexation to be amicable,” Woodway town administrator Eric Faison said. “We would like to have an agreement that would work for the developer, the town residents (in Woodway) and for Richmond Beach residents in Shoreline.”

Faison said the town would try to persuade all parties to get on board, realizing that might be difficult. Any future development there, he emphasized, would depend on the landowner, and zoning.

First, the Town Council must vote to proceed. Then, the case could move to the Boundary Review Board, to consider any objections.

The proposed Point Wells high-rise development, with more than 3,000 condo units, has suffered major setbacks this year. A hearing examiner denied the project in June and declined to give developer BSRE Point Wells more time to work on it. The County Council upheld the decision earlier this month.

For now, the project is dead. BSRE could try to revive it by appealing in court.

For any new development application, updated zoning would limit the size.

In addition to Point Wells, the area Woodway might incorporate includes a residential property that straddles the town and unincorporated land. Three registered voters who live at that house could vote on the boundary change, Faison said. The annexation area also includes a sewer lift station and the Puget Sound outfall from King County’s Brightwater Treatment Plant.

The Town Council on Oct. 14 signaled its intent to annex the 60-acre property.

BSRE Point Wells, part of Blue Square Real State and an Israel-based energy conglomerate, submitted a development application in 2011. Plans show 46 buildings, almost half of them 90 to 180 feet tall.

The hearing examiner ruled the plans provided no access to high-capacity transit such as a highway or light rail, so buildings could rise no higher than 90 feet. The ruling also concluded that some proposed structures were too close to neighbors and marine waters, and that more study was needed of landslide hazards from a coastal bluff.

Traffic also remains a problem. To reach the property, there’s only a single two-lane road through Shoreline.

Woodway, with a population of 1,340 people, has no commercial property. That could change if the town takes in Point Wells. Officials envision the area as a future downtown, with mixed-use development and parkland, after extensive environmental cleanup. The area’s urban village zoning could some day accommodate 1,320 housing units, according to a comprehensive plan.

The city of Shoreline, in King County south of Point Wells, has battled Woodway in court over providing sewer service. The City Council voted Oct. 15, the day after Woodway’s annexation resolution, to try to take control of the Point Wells sewer lift station using eminent domain. The lift station is inside Woodway’s potential annexation.

Point Wells has been an industrial area for more than a century. Woodway’s civic leaders are in no rush to change BSRE’s ongoing activities.

“Nothing prevents them from continuing their existing operation indefinitely,” Faison said.

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

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