Save Richmond Beach reacts to Supreme Court decision

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Statement from Save Richmond Beach on the recent Supreme Court decision on Point Wells

SRB to continue the fight

The Washington State Supreme Court finally issued their long awaited decision on whether the planned Urban Center development at Point Wells can proceed and their answer was: Yes.

You can click on this link to see the complete text of the decision.

Although we are disappointed by the Court’s decision, all hope is not lost.  Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean the development is permitted, only that Snohomish County can continue to process the developer’s Urban Center application for over 3000 condos and 100,000 square feet of retail/commercial space.

The dispute started when Snohomish County had to make changes to its comprehensive plan, zoning, and development regulations in order to allow Point Wells to be developed as an Urban Center.  Save Richmond Beach, Woodway, and Shoreline challenged those changes and won -- the Growth Management Hearings Board found several of the County’s changes to be illegal under the Growth Management Act (GMA) and State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).  Our Supreme Court case tested whether the developer and Snohomish County could proceed with the Point Wells Urban Center, anyway, under a doctrine known as “vesting.”  The case was jointly filed by the Town of Woodway and Save Richmond Beach.

In a 6-3 decision the court ruled that vesting rights outweigh other requirements of the Growth Management Act and State Environmental Policy Act. The 3 justices who agreed with us wrote a strong dissent echoing SRB's argument that vesting should not be used as a "sword" to push through an otherwise-illegal development: "The GMA and SEPA should be read in harmony and given effect, and not, as the majority holds, written out of existence. The vesting rights doctrine cannot be used as a sword to eviscerate the purpose and function of the GMA and SEPA."

This result means the Urban Center development application for Point Wells is valid and Snohomish County can proceed with processing and eventually deciding whether to approve it. But this is not the end of the fight -- the proposed Urban Center at Point Wells is still a non-conforming development that was previously ruled illegal by the GMHB.  Many problems must be addressed and resolved before Snohomish County can legally issue permits for this project, including the lack of adequate transportation infrastructure and the fact that Point Wells is located in a known landslide hazard area.  Save Richmond Beach will continue to work with you – the affected residents – to ensure the developer and Snohomish County are held accountable for these problems.

We may have lost this round, but we've made progress and the fight is far from over!  The next round will be the SEPA environmental review of the project itself, including the important Transportation Corridor Study being conducted by the City of Shoreline.  The recent requests to send in SEPA scoping comments were the first step in this next round.  We were encouraged by the detailed comments submitted by Shoreline, Woodway, Richmond Beach Advocates, and several private citizens, in addition to Save Richmond Beach.  Please continue to make your voices heard!

Because the fight is not yet over it's more important than ever that you become a member of Save Richmond Beach to help us fund our work. Membership is $120 a year and can be paid in weekly or monthly installments.  You can sign up at our website by clicking the Membership button in the top right corner of the page.  We can’t be effective without members willing to help pay for our activities. is a community-driven non-profit organization dedicated to preserving our communities and Puget Sound through responsible and sustainable planning.


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