by Jeff Switzer
BEAR CREEK--King County Superior Court Judge Marsha Pechman hasn't signed the order yet, but it looks as though a judgement will be in favor of King County in its lawsuit against the Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board for their 1995 remand for the "island urban growth areas."
In a short oral decision, Judge Pechman told the county and Quadrant's attorney to write a draft order and present it to the Hearings Board and Friends of the Law (FOTL), a group opposing the proposed Urban Planned Development just east of Redmond.
FOTL had sided with the Hearings Board in support of the remand, which required the county to designate the UPDs a fully-contained community (FCC).
"Until we see what the final court order says (and hear more of the judge's rationale), we won't know if we lost by a score of 0-12 or 5-6," said FOTL chair Joseph Elfelt.
Elfelt said the group has seen the draft order and is planning to reject it because it lacks both reason and rationale for determining that the board's second decision was a mistake.
The county brought suit against the Growth Management Hearings Board after the board changed its ruling that the two urban areas in Bear Creek were allowed under the Growth Management Act. In its new decision, the board remanded the issue back to the county to change, justify or delete the designation for the 2,000 acres of land.
Once the order is signed, FOTL and the Hearings Board will have 30 days to decide about appeals.
The Coalition for Public Trust, another anti-UPD group associated with FOTL, has a suit pending against King County in Snohomish Superior Court regarding appearance of fairness issues in approving Blakely Ridge, the timeliness of approval in light of the Hearings Board remand, and the vesting of the original one-acre plats. The court date for that suit is Sept. 20.
Northridge appeals filed
Appeals of Hearing Examiner Stafford Smith's recommendation on Northridge, Blakely Ridge's sister UPD, have come from Port Blakely, Quadrant, the City of Redmond, and Lake Washington School District.
Redmond is asking for project denial, a finding of environmental impact statement inadequacy, or imposition of the full mitigation fees proposed by the city, arguing that the SEPA (State Environmental Police Act) documents do not adequately describe and mitigate project traffic impacts to Redmond.
While Hearing Examiner Smith says Redmond's reconsideration request is "global in nature," it raised the point of whether staff's recommended 50 percent trip reduction factor had adequate legal basis for its use.
The two developers are requesting that the 100-foot retail buffer be reduced to 50 feet, arguing that the smaller buffer would be sufficient.
In a preliminary discussion, Smith questioned whether 50 feet of native vegetation would be able to survive and adequately perform its purpose, and said it would be helpful if arborists and/or county staff could present evidence.