Overview and History

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Overview & History

Point Wells is an unincorporated portion of Snohomish County, bound on the west by Puget Sound, on the north and east by the Town of Woodway, and on the south by the City of Shoreline. Approximately 61 acres of this unincorporated area is owned by BSRE Point Wells, LP and has been an industrial use for over fifty years. The BSRE property currently serves as an asphalt plant. The only vehicular access to the BSRE portion of the Point Wells area is through Shoreline.

In mid-2007, the owner of the property announced an intention to redevelop the site. The proposal required a change to the Snohomish County Comprehensive Plan Designation for the 61 acres from Urban Industrial to "Urban Center" and a zoning change from Heavy Industrial to Planned Community Business and then to "Point Wells Urban Center." The Snohomish County Council approved the requested changes to its Comprehensive Plan and Zoning to accommodate BSRE's development aspirations. These actions resulted in appeals to the State Growth Management Hearings Board (GMHB) by the City of Shoreline, the Town of Woodway, and the citizens group Save Richmond Beach. A hearing before the GMHB was held on March 2, 2011.

On March 4, 2011, BSRE submitted a project application to Snohomish County for a mixed-use community in accordance with the Snohomish County Urban Center Development Code. The application was accepted by Snohomish County planning officials as being a "complete" application. It is expected that an EIS will be required and further analysis completed in order to define the impacts and mitigation requirements.

On April 25, 2011, the GMHB issued a Final Decision Order stating Snohomish County failed to comply with the Goals of the GMA when adopting the comprehensive plan designation and zoning for the Point Wells site and agreed that the SEPA documents were inadequate. The Board ordered the County to amend its Plan to bring it into compliance and to do additional SEPA analysis to describe additional alternatives and likely impacts.

On August 27, in response to the GMHB's Final Decision, Snohomish County issued an Addendum to the FSEIS that provides additional information on the anticipated environmental impacts from a proposed third non-project land use alternative. On September 19, 2012, the County held a public hearing to receive comment on two ordinances that would amend its Comprehensive Plan and development regulations related to Point Wells.

On October 17, 2012, Snohomish County amends the "Urban Centers" future land use map designation to "Urban Village" and zoning from "Urban Center" to "Planned Community Business" to comply with the GMHB's Decision Order.

In September of 2011, Save Richmond Beach and the City of Woodway sued Snohomish County for declaration and judgment that the BSRE Permit Application not be vested to the land use designation and zoning found to be in violation of SEPA and GMA. The suit asked for an injunction restraining the County from processing the permit application until it complied with the GMHB's Decision Order. On November 23, King County Superior Court Judge Dean Lum granted the request for summary judgment and the injunction.

On November 7, 2012, the Washington State Court of Appeals heard the appeal of the King County Superior Court ruling. On January 7, 2013 the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's summary judgment. With the Court of Appeals decision, BSRE's applications for the Point Wells site are vested and can be processed under the Snohomish County Urban Center zoning.

City of Shoreline's plans for Point Wells

Point Wells Subarea Plan articulates the City's concerns, interests, and aspirations regarding urban service delivery, governance, traffic, and impacts on adjacent neighborhoods and infrastructure in Shoreline.

The City's Point Wells Subarea Plan identifies the BSRE property as Shoreline's designated "Future Service and Annexation Area." It calls for an environmentally sustainable mixed use development of the area, although at a much smaller scale than that allowed by Snohomish County's Point Wells Urban Center Zoning. The Point Wells Subarea Plan includes a proposed cap on the amount of traffic that future development of the BSRE property can place on the City's road network and calls for the preparation of a detailed Transportation Corridor Study and Implementation Plan to identify improvements and programs that would be needed to mitigate the impacts.

Additional amendments to the Subarea Plan (adopted in February 2011) a) changed the designation of a segment of Richmond Beach Drive NW north of NW 199th Street from "collector arterial" to a "neighborhood street", and b) adopted a new policy that states that the City should not consider reclassifying the street designation until either Snohomish County or the property owner (BSRE) provide the City with a Transportation Corridor Study (TCS) and Implementation Plan as well as financial and legal guarantees that the necessary mitigations will be provided.

In anticipation of the City reaching an agreement with BSRE on conducting a Transportation Corridor Study on mitigating adverse impacts from its proposed development of Point Wells, City staff have submitted a proposal to amend the Point Wells Subarea Plan and the Capital Facilities and Transportation Elements of the Comprehensive Plan for consideration in 2013. Amendments to the City’s Comprehensive Plan will be drafted to incorporate anticipated changes resulting from the TCS and will be reviewed by the Planning Commission and considered by the City Council in 2013. Proposed amendments include increasing the total vehicle trips per day allowed on NW Richmond Beach Drive in conjunction with mitigation projects and funding needed to maintain adopted levels of service for this road, and reclassification of NW Richmond Beach Drive from a local street to a collector arterial.

Snohomish County's plans for Point Wells

Despite the City of Shoreline's objections, in 2009, the Snohomish County Council amended the County's Comprehensive Plan to designate Point Wells as an "Urban Center" and in 2010, following a public hearing, changed the zoning to "Point Wells Urban Center".

The City of Shoreline, Save Richmond Beach, the Town of Woodway, and the property owner all gave testimony at that hearing and submitted letters to the County Council. The City pointed out that its recent traffic and safety analysis quantified the impact of future development at Point Wells on the City's road network, and recommended that the County establish a cap on development intensity in order to prevent failure of a number of intersections in the city.

Snohomish County's Point Wells Website