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City scores landmark decision over developers

  • Written by Don Mann
The City of Woodinville and Concerned Neighbors of Wellington (CNW) scored a huge win and a landmark victory with the Washington State Supreme Court’s unanimous 9-0 decision released Thursday acknowledging the city’s right to govern its own development in the case of Phoenix v. Woodinville.

The end result was a long time coming.

"I am pleased and gratified that the Supreme Court decided in our favor," Councilmember and CNW member Jeff Glickman said. "It is reassuring that justice can and does prevail."

Phoenix Development, Inc. owns two undeveloped properties in the northeast area of Woodinville known as Wellington. In 2007 the Woodinville City Council denied two applications submitted to rezone from R-1(one dwelling per acre) to R-4 (four per acre).

Phoenix filed a land use petition that was dismissed in Superior Court. The Court of Appeals later reversed that decision and the State Supreme Court reversed that on Thursday.

In his opinion, Justice James M. Johnson wrote the following: "Given the deference afforded to the City to implement its comprehensive plan, we hold that its decision was not clearly erroneous in light of the evidence. Substantial evidence in the record supports the City’s decision to deny Phoenix’s request under the controlling city ordinance, WMC 21.44.070.

"Courts defer to local government decisions under the laws and rules applicable to such decisions. The City is not required to rezone to R-4 in every case where adequate services can be provided, and it did not err when it concluded that the proposed rezones are inconsistent with its own comprehensive plan."

Woodinville Deputy Mayor Bernie Talmas, also a Wellington dweller, was delighted with the result.

"It establishes the right of local governments to control their own development and land use policies," he said. "It protects the R-1 neighborhoods in Woodinville, which is an important part of our comprehensive plan in maintaining our woodland character. It’s a significant decision both for Woodinville and every city in the state."

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