by Jeff Switzer
The attorney representing Canterbury Criers Association recently sent a letter to the City of Woodinville arguing that the existing grid road ordinance is an unconstitutional regulatory taking, and criticizing the city for taking so long in deciding the fate of at least six lots in the proposed right of way of the future NE 173rd Place grid road.
"The Association's purchase of the [Canterbury Square] property was premised, in part, on its ability to develop and sell the lots along the park's north border," wrote Attorney Dave Bricklin. "The city's actions have frustrated the Association's legitimate business objectives. The city's actions have caused and continue to cause the Association considerable damage."
Bricklin and Canterbury residents have repeatedly approached the City Council for resolution of this issue, hoping for two things: That the road right of way (ROW) under the new ordinance will shift north 16 feet to be less disruptive; and that the city will allow temporary manufactured homes to be constructed within the proposed ROW until Canterbury redevelops: 2001 at the soonest and on the market in 2008.
The council most recently discussed the issue the first week of August, when they went on a tour of Molbak's Greenhouse and Canterbury's properties to see the where the proposed grid road would go. After that, the grid road ordinance discussions "apparently fell through the cracks," said Deputy Mayor Don Brocha, who apologized for the delay in resolving the issue.
Bricklin recommended the council consult its attorney regarding the "substantial financial risk the city faces" if the city continues to apply the ordinance as written.
Building within dedicated or proposed future right of way is not currently permitted under the council's recently approved grid road ordinance, which adopted the roads downtown in the TRF shopping center and LeisureCare projects. The language about mobile homes was never decided on.
"If the city truly desires to preclude development in future rights of way, the lawful means for doing so at this time is to purchase an interest in the right of way," wrote Bricklin.
Bricklin says his clients wish to avoid litigation and "resolve this matter amicably with the city," while they remain confident they would win if the issue is forced into court.
Bricklin asked to have the council address the issue again in October. City Manager Joe Meneghini cited the council's full October agenda and suggested taking it up during the Nov. 4 meeting.
Public Services Administrator Joel Birchman recently resigned and began working for an engineering consulting firm. Birchman had been the lead on the grid road ordinance, while also drafting the six-year capital improvements program (CIP). He was in charge of regular maintenance issues and just recently completed work on the transportation element of the city's first GMA Comprehensive Plan.
Birchman's last day was Oct. 11. While the city is looking for a replacement, Roy Peterson will be serving in the interim.