Friday, March 4, 2016
|Richmond Beach Drive NW is the only road to Point Wells.|
Photo by Diane Hettrick
By Evan Smith
Decisions on the proposed Point Wells project still are years away.
An environmental impact statement for the project now is years behind schedule, while target dates for the final environmental impact statement keep moving further into the future.
Developer BSRE has proposed building 3,081 condominium units along with 125,000 square feet of retail and commercial space on the industrial site in southwest Snohomish County across the King-Snohomish county line from Richmond Beach. The site is within the urban growth area of the Town of Woodway in Snohomish County.
Snohomish County planners expect to have a draft environmental impact statement ready this spring.
Shoreline City Manager Debbie Tarry said February 9 that she expected to see that draft statement in June.
Planner Ryan Countryman said in late February that a June target for the draft statement is about right.
Once Snohomish County issues the draft statement, anyone will have 45 days to comment. The standard comment period is 30 days with a possible 15-day extension, but Countryman said in late February that he is planning on a 45-day comment period.
After the comment period, contractors working for the county planning department will write the final environmental impact statement, something that Countryman expects by the end of 2017.
A representative of developer BSRE had been quoted in an April 2014 Everett Herald article as saying that he estimated that completion of the environmental impact statement would come by the end of that year.
To write the final environmental impact statement, Countryman says, planners need the developer to respond to requests for several pieces of information.
He said in early February that the developer hasn’t replied to questions about the correct number of condominium units, the correct number of parking spaces and a second road.
The only way into and out of Point Wells is by a two-lane road, Richmond Beach Drive NW, in Shoreline, a road that crosses the King-Snohomish County line into the southwest corner of Woodway before reaching Point Wells.
BSRE representative Gary Huff, a Seattle attorney, said in February that the developer would complete its response in time to meet the county’s timetable.
Countryman said that Snohomish County planning officials first had asked for the information in 2013.
Countryman sent a letter to Huff last summer asking for clarification on the number of units, the number of parking spaces and plans for a second road.
The most recent plat submitted by the developer shows about 330 fewer units than the number that the developer previously had asked for. It also shows fewer parking spaces than required and has no plans for a second road.
BSRE attorney Huff said that the perceived inconsistencies stemmed from Snohomish County's misinterpretation of the submitted plans.
Huff said that complying with all of the county’s requests has been slow because Point Wells is a big project.
Once county planners have the final environmental impact statement, they can make a recommendation to a Snohomish County hearing examiner for planning and zoning matters.
Countryman said in February that, without the missing information, county planners could not recommend approval of the project.
The hearing examiner will consider written and oral testimony before deciding whether to approve the plan, reject the plan, approve the plan with conditions, or remand it to the Snohomish County planning department for further revisions.
Approval with conditions could include asking for a smaller development.
A hearing examiner’s decision can be appealed to the Snohomish County council, with a possible further appeal to the Snohomish County Superior Court.
In addition to getting a permit from Snohomish County, the developer needs to get approval from the state Department of Ecology of an environmental cleanup on the site, which for decades has been used for petroleum shipping and storage. The operator of the oil facilities has yet to start the cleanup process.
Also, the project needs approval from a county design review board.
A representative of a coalition of Richmond Beach organizations, Tom McCormack, said in late February that the delay in starting the environmental cleanup is understandable because it is the responsibility of the company that runs petroleum shipping and storage at the site, an entity that is separate from developer BSRE. Both companies are subsidiaries of Israeli holding company Alon.
He said that that the company that operates the oil operations has no reason to pay for the cleanup without knowing that the development has permission to proceed, permission that would make the possibility of a return on investment more likely.
Evan Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.