Point Wells: Will the oil operations at Point Wells be shut down forever?

Friday, August 6, 2021

Point Wells photo courtesy Google maps

From the Sno-King Environmental Protection Coalition

For more than 100 years, Point Wells has been a petroleum products terminal, and for part of that time an asphalt plant. Most recently, Point Wells has been used to receive, store and distribute marine fuel and asphalt oil, a "nonconforming use" not permitted under the site's current zoning, or under Snohomish County’s Shoreline Management Program. 

Nonconforming uses are uniformly disfavored. The Washington Supreme Court has repeatedly acknowledged the desirability of eliminating such uses.

In 2010, coinciding with the County rezoning Point Wells an Urban Center as requested by the oil company, the oil company sold to BSRE Point Wells, LP ("BSRE") the land at Point Wells, but retained ownership of all tanks, pipelines, equipment, buildings, fencing, the pier, etc. As part of the deal, BSRE gave the oil company a 10-year license, enabling the oil company to continue its operations following the sale.

The 10-year license period expired last year, on June 1, 2020. About five months before the license period expired, BSRE notified the oil company that it had to vacate the site when the license period expired.

Though it did not vacate the site, the oil company drained its storage tanks to their heels, and stopped receiving, storing, and distributing marine fuel and asphalt oil. It laid off many of its employees. 

Through a series of extension agreements with the oil company, BSRE let the remaining employees continue their work at the site beyond June 1, 2020, providing 24/7 security, doing environmental compliance work, doing some site upkeep, etc.

Point Wells photo by Steven H. Robinson

A recent filing in Snohomish County by Richmond Beach resident Tom McCormick contends that because the oil company has discontinued receiving, storing, and distributing marine fuel and asphalt oil for more than 12 months, it has forfeited the right to resume those "nonconforming" operations.

Mr. McCormick filed a Code Interpretation request, asking the County to interpret and enforce the "nonconforming use" provisions of County Code section 30.67.450(5), so that Point Wells can never again be used as a petroleum products terminal or asphalt plant.

It is expected that later this month the County will publish a notice in the Everett Daily Herald, inviting the public to comment on the Code Interpretation request. After the comment period expires, the County will review the comments, then issue its Code Interpretation. Stay tuned.

The supporting documents for the Code Interpretation request can be accessed here [ https://www.dropbox.com/s/fjlhc1wyziqagun/2021-07-30%20CI%20request%20re%20nonconforming%20use%20lttr%26exhs.pdf?dl=0 ].



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