Point Wells project impact statement delayed again

Monday, June 13, 2016

Richmond Beach Drive on right. Hillside drops down to the railroad tracks.
The petroleum tanks at Point Wells are in the background.
Photo by Diane Hettrick

By Evan Smith

Planning for the proposed Point Wells project has been delayed again.

Snohomish County planners now say that the draft environmental impact statement will come out in October rather than in July as reported earlier.

That means that the 45-day period for comments about the draft statement has advanced from summer to late fall.

The delay in the draft EIS came about because of errors by a contractor hired to write the section on traffic impacts, errors that forced the contractor to redo its work.

Snohomish County Principal planner Ryan Countryman said Friday that the traffic study was the main missing piece for the draft statement.

He said that the draft statement would include discussion of engineering of a road through Woodway. Such a road would be the required second road to the proposed project.

Currently, the only road to or from the development is a narrow, two-lane road through the Richmond Beach area of Shoreline. The road, Richmond Beach Drive NW, crosses the King - Snohomish County line into the southwest corner of the town of Woodway before reaching Point Wells.

Developer Blue Star Real Estate has proposed building 3,081 condominium units along with 125,000 square feet of retail and commercial space on the industrial site, a site that is within the urban growth area of Woodway.

After the comment period, another contractor working for the county planning department will write the final environmental impact statement, something that may not come until 2018.

Planner Countryman said that developer BSRE has decided not to comment before the draft statement but to comment before a final EIS.

In addition to the environmental impact statement, the project needs approval from a Snohomish County design review board.

This is the latest of a long series of delays to planning for the Point Wells project. A representative of the developer had been quoted in an April 2014 Everett Herald article as saying that he then estimated that completion of the environmental impact statement would come by the end of that year.

To write the final environmental impact statement, Countryman said in early February, planners need responses from the developer to requests for several pieces of information.

He said in February that the developer hadn’t replied to questions about the correct number of units and the correct number of parking spaces in addition to questions about a second road.

Countryman said then that 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.

Once Snohomish County planners finish the final environmental impact statement, they can make a recommendation to a county hearing examiner for planning and zoning matters.

Countryman says 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 planning department for further revisions.

A hearing examiner’s decision can be appealed to the Snohomish County council, with a 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 environmental-cleanup process.

Evan Smith can be reached at schsmith@frontier.com.

Updated 06-13-2016 11:20pm


Anonymous,  June 13, 2016 at 11:06 PM  

Fight Point Wells with a major air rights arrangement. If everyone home who's view will be affected by this disaster of the development sold their air rights to the person behind them for a buck, there just may be a tangled web of air rights that the developer must now fight. It might not feasible, but as of now, Pt Wells is not yet a part of King County or Shoreline.

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