Comment on Point Wells by midnight November 24, 2020

Friday, November 20, 2020

Point Wells
Google Earth

What is Point Wells?

BSRE is the owner of Point Wells, which is a 64-acre property located on the shore of Puget Sound in the extreme southwestern corner of Snohomish County, immediately north of the City of Shoreline. Point Wells has been used as an asphalt refinery and light petroleum products and lube oil distribution terminal for over a century. The only road into Point Wells goes through Shoreline.

The BNSF train runs through Point Wells. The only road is a narrow two lane road in Shoreline.
Photo courtesy Brightwater

Update from the Sno-King Environmental Protection Coalition

The Snohomish County Hearing Examiner held a public hearing during the last two weeks on BSRE's revised application for a large development at Point Wells. The Snohomish County Planning and Development Services department again recommended denial of the revised application because it still does not address several of the issues that caused BSRE's original application to be denied. While the county and BSRE have completed their presentations, there's still time for you to enter your comments about the proposal. More on that below...

A narrow road leads to Point Wells
Photo by Steven H. Robinson

Some history

Here's an extremely brief history to make sure everyone is up to date. BSRE submitted their original application in 2011. The county sent BSRE a letter in 2013 identifying a large number of problems with the application, such as missing data or design elements that did not follow the county plans, codes, or regulations. BSRE provided minimal response to the letter, so in 2017 the county sent a follow up letter indicating the problems had not yet been resolved and that BSRE had until January 2018 to submit the missed data or corrected plans.

BSRE did manage to submit some additional material by the January 2018 deadline, but after reviewing the application the county identified numerous instances where the plans were still in substantial conflict with county plans, codes, or regulations, so the county recommended that the application be denied.

A landslide from the Town of Woodway, which is on the hill above Point Wells.
This photo was possibly just north of Point Wells. Photo courtesy MOHAI

After a public hearing before the Hearing Examiner, the Examiner agreed with the county's recommendation and denied the application. The County Council upheld the denial, but BSRE filed suit to try to overturn the decision. They were unsuccessful, but they did convince the court that a decision to deny the application came with the right to submit a revised application. BSRE submitted a revised application in December 2019; it is this revised application that the Hearing Examiner is now considering.

Still no attempt to resolve the main issues

The two main issues with the January 2018 application were lack of access to high capacity transit (which if present would allow buildings taller than 90 feet) and placing buildings in a landslide hazard area.

Instead of resolving these issues in the December 2019 application, BSRE took the approach of asking the county to grant a variance to allow them to ignore those rules so they could construct the tall buildings without access to transit, and could build in the hazard area. The county reviewed the variance requests and found they did not meet the requirements to allow them to be granted. Without the variances, the county found the application still in substantial conflict with provisions of the county code or regulations, hence the recommendation for denial again.

A coal train passes. Point Wells is in the background
Photo by Steven H. Robinson

Your chance to comment

You still have until midnight on November 24, 2020 to submit your comments about the project. You can submit them via email by sending them to or you can join a remote Zoom session at 10am on the 24th to read your statement into the record (use the link shown below).

November 24, 2020 @ 10 am Zoom link:

Here are some potential topics you can comment on. You do not need to be technical, the Hearing Examiner is interested in hearing how local residents feel about the proposal.
  • Building height (proposing towers that are up to 180 feet tall).
  • View corridors (the towers block the views of RB and Woodway residents who live near the site).
  • Landslide risk (proposing to place buildings within a landslide hazard area that had a major slide within the last 100 years).
  • Second access road (unapproved design, lack of land rights needed to build the road, and lack of landslide mitigation).
  • Undesirable and maxed out traffic for the Richmond Beach Road corridor, especially now that much of RB Road is only 3 lanes.
  • A Traffic Corridor Study started in 2014 that has yet to be completed (probably because it will show that RB Road can't handle the projected traffic from the site).
  • Lack of public transportation to the site.
  • Density and number of residences (still over 2800 units in the latest plan).
  • Environmental distress for the shoreline other critical areas.
  • 10 years of non-compliance and lack of responsiveness to the County Planners (the original plans were submitted in 2011 and the county identified a list of problems in 2013 that were not addressed until the end of 2017, and even then some of the issues were still ignored).
  • 10 years of wasting millions of taxpayer dollars of Snohomish County, Shoreline, and Woodway staff time, participation in court appeals, lawsuits, high priced consultants (BSRE has had multiple opportunities to get this right and has failed every time).
Now is the time

If you ever thought about commenting on the project but never quite got around to it, or if you have commented in the past but want just one more time to let the Examiner know how you feel, now is the time to do it.

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Anonymous,  November 20, 2020 at 1:46 PM  

Still hoping that this land can be returned to the wild and become a park. It will be good for the Sound, good for animals/fish, and good for people. It's a rare chance to do something smart for the future.

Anonymous,  November 24, 2020 at 6:12 PM  

Just emailed this to the examiner:

"Sent: Tuesday, November 24, 2020 6:05 PM
To: ''
Subject: Point Wells 2 point comment in opposition

Dear Sir/Madam,

I will limit my comments to two items that represent my opposition to the Point Wells development project as it is currently proposed.

(1) It is clear from the dreadful experience in Oso, WA that allowing man-made structures in a land slide zone can have a very poor outcome. BSRE has requested a code variance allowing them to build habitations and dwellings (I’m presuming) within the slide zone. Until this item is resolved to meet county and state development standards, it is utterly negligent to allow any development to proceed.

(2) Maintaining single road access to the proposed development site is problematic, perhaps even irreconcilable with the goals of the developer. And, some argue that adding a second access road is also problematic in its own right. What I do know is that Richmond Beach road which I use so frequently is absolutely insufficient to serve that needs of a new 2800 unit community.

If you consider my two previous points in context of a natural or man-made disaster like earthquake, tsunami, land slide or BNSF haz-mat spill, how do you expect emergency services to a respond to Point Wells both in size-of-force or road access? How will the future residents of Point Wells receive aid if a haz-mat spill or chemical fire blocks access to the community? I understand this development is seen as a tax revenue generator but at what cost, and to whom? The answer, Point Wells residents could lose their lives and the City of Shoreline would bear the brunt of providing aid.

Quite frankly, it is obvious to me that Point Wells should not be allowed to proceed in the current form of a housing community. The property is too isolated and cannot be properly served with appropriate levels of emergency service. But perhaps I’m speaking to the blind and deaf. Having moved out of Snohomish County several years ago, I was witness to how the county routinely overdeveloped rural properties, particularly in Bothell along 180th ST SE and 35th AVE SE – all over the concerns expressed by Snohomish County Fire District 7.

Thank you for your time."

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