FEBRUARY 3, 1997
by Jeff Switzer
As was expected, the Northridge urban planned development (UPD) will end up in King County Superior Court, with the City of Redmond and two citizen groups filing lawsuits against King County for approving the project. The Coalition for Public Trust (CPT) and Friends of the Law (FOTL) are reiterating the objections they voiced before the King County Council during the quasi-judicial proceedings.
The first is a property rights issue: The complaint contends the neighbors of the development will be adversely impacted, with Northridge "severely impairing" their right to enjoy the use of their land.
"Property rights go beyond 'takings,'" said Joseph Elfelt, president of FOTL. "The county has made our job easy. Their conduct with the water issue and the record gives us the case on a plate."
Elfelt says the county will lose the suit because they denied the property owners due process by making an "arbitrary decision" regarding the availability of water supply, as "there was no evidence in the record which affirmed that there was potable water for the project."
The second issue in the suit is an appearance of fairness and bias complaint against King County Councilmember Chris Vance, who is chair of the Growth Management, Housing, and Environment Committee. The plaintiffs say that the Hearing Examiner and Vance both continually urged the council to put off addressing the water issue until the building permit stage. Elfelt says state and county laws require it to be addressed now.
The third issue in the suit attacks the water issue on its merits, given that "there were no findings of fact in the record showing availability of potable water." Elfelt says there are also other issues in the suit.
Redmond's contention remains traffic impacts: They argue that the proposed $829,000 in traffic mitigations is insufficient for the $4.5 million in identified projects reportedly affected by the 1,046-acre proposal.