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YarrowBay files appeal in superior court of hearings board ruling on The Villages and Lawson Hills in Black Diamond | Read Documents
The legal wheels are in motion around the master planned developments The Villages and Lawson Hills in Black Diamond.
Following the Feb. 15 Growth Management Hearings Board ruling remanding back to the city the ordinances approving The Villages and Lawson Hills, the City Council passed a resolution in response to the decision and the developer of the projects, Kirkland-based YarrowBay, filed an appeal in state superior court.
The YarrowBay appeal asked the court to “set aside the Board’s decision.” The appeal stated the ruling was, “(a) outside the Board’s statutory authority or jurisdiction; (b) the result of an unlawful procedure or decision-making process; (c) the result of an erroneous interpretation of the law; (d) not supported by substantial evidence; (e) inconsistent with Board rules; and (f) arbitrary or capricious.”
YarrowBay is also asking the court to consolidate the appeal of the ruling with the other Land Use Petition Act or LUPA appeal filed by the Black Diamond group Toward Responsible Development that is currently before superior court Judge Cheryl B. Carey.
The hearings board ruled there should have been a hearing before the Planning Commission to receive public comment, followed by a recommendation from the commission sent to the City Council. In the board’s decision, a legislative rather than quasi-judicial process should have been used to approve the ordinances. Because those legislative steps were missing the ordinances were sent back to the city for compliance with the Growth Management Act.
The City Council unanimously approved a resolution Feb. 17 stating since YarrowBay announced the hearings board’s ruling would be appealed to the state superior court, the city “will not file its own appeal of the Growth Board’s Order on Motions and will limit its participation to responding to other appeals filed.”
The resolution also stated, “In order to avoid potentially unnecessary expenditure of time and resources, and to avoid the potential for conflicting results in the event that the Growth Board’s Order is reversed, the City Council directs the City’s attorneys to request that the Growth Board stay and/or extend the schedule for compliance set forth in the Order on Motions, so as to allow sufficient time for the City to consider and implement all steps necessary as a result of the outcome of any appeals of the Growth Board’s Order on Motions.”
YarrowBay submitted development agreement documents in September following approval of the projects by the City Council. The developer submitted revised documents in December.
According to the city staff no public hearing regarding the development agreement documents have been scheduled.
Mayor Rebecca Olness said it is her understanding YarrowBay would like to “continue to discuss the development agreement” with the city.
Bob Edelman, a member of Toward Responsible Development, stated in an e-mail, “The resolution said nothing about the development agreements that are being negotiated with Yarrow Bay. In fact, the mayor said that the process is continuing. This raises the specter of the city completing the process, signing agreements and vesting Yarrow Bay with development rights while the Board’s decision is being appealed.”
A Feb. 17 release from the city signed by the mayor stated the city was addressing, “any misconceptions” concerning the board’s ruling.
According to the release, the city’s analysis of the board ruling is the ordinances approving the two master planned developments continue to be “fully intact and fully in effect.”
The statement noted the petitioners, Toward Responsible Development, “specifically asked the Board to invalidate the MPD Permits, and the Board specifically declined to do so.”
The release stated from the city’s perspective, “the effect of the Board’s order is only that the Planning Commission should consider the already-approved MPD Permit ordinances in a legislative public hearing, rather than in a quasi-judicial public hearing, and then forward its recommendations to the City Council for action.”
Edelman wrote he thought the city’s position concerning the appeal was ambiguous.
“The impression was given that the city did not want to appeal the Board’s decision,” Edelman stated. “But the resolution is written as if the city is not appealing only because Yarrow Bay is and not because it accepts the decision.”