Point Wells Update: Urban Village Ordinances to Come Before Council

The Court of Appeals hearing regarding the “vesting” status of the developers Urban Center development application has been set for mid-November.

Editor's note: This Point Wells update is from Save Richmond Beach, which opposes the proposed Point Wells project and filed a lawsuit against Snohomish County and the developer of Point Wells, BSRE.

It has been a quiet summer for the volunteers at Save Richmond Beach.

As we move into fall however, things will be ramping up again.

 We are pleased to report that Snohomish County is finally attempting to comply with the Growth Board ruling by reducing the overall scope of the Point Wells development.

It appears though that the new Urban Village ordinances have some of the same crucial flaws as the old ones, especially with regard to traffic and transit requirements.
Meanwhile, in a separate legal challenge, the Court of Appeals hearing regarding the “vesting” status of the developers Urban Center development application has been set for mid-November.

The new Urban Village ordinances mentioned above may be moot if the Urban Center development application is deemed vested by the Court of Appeals and ultimately the State Supreme Court.

Growth Management Hearing Board  As most of you know the state Growth Management Hearing Board ruled last year that Snohomish County’s designation of Point Wells as an Urban Center was out of compliance with the state Growth Management Act (GMA) and the State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA).

This ruling invalidated the Urban Center ordinances and required that Snohomish County take legislative action to bring them into compliance with both GMA and SEPA. The Board gave the County 12 months to complete that work. After asking for and being granted an additional 6 month extension, Snohomish County introduced revised ordinances in August.

The revised ordinances no longer designate Point Wells as an Urban Center. Under the newly introduced ordinances Point Wells will be designated as an Urban Village.

The Urban Village designation allows less intense development, but the County is also introducing other changes that loosen the definition of an Urban Village so that it fits the unique characteristics of Point Wells and gives greater flexibility to the developer.

  • Under the existing county code, an Urban Village is required to be no larger than 25 acres in size.  Point Wells is 60 acres so the County is proposing to remove any size restrictions on Urban Villages.
  • Under the existing county code, an Urban Village must be located adjacent to a principle arterial road.  There are no principle arterials that serve Point Wells so the County is proposing to replace the requirement for a principle arterial with a requirement for a minor arterial.

The net effect of the proposed changes is that the County is allowing much larger Urban Villages containing more than twice as many dwelling units while reducing the size of the roads required to serve these dense urban developments.

The vague transportation language is what was at the root of our original legal challenge and the County and developer have not found a way to resolve that issue and so again using squishy language to allow for dense development in locations not served by high capacity transportation options.

There are also some positive changes in the proposed ordinances.  Maximum building height under the old Urban Center designation was 180 feet (18 stories). The proposed Urban Village ordinances limit building height to 124 feet (12 stories).

Under the old Urban Center designation the developer had submitted plans for 3085 dwelling units. The proposed Urban Village designation will limit dwelling units to a maximum of about 2680

The proposed ordinances are expected to come before the Snohomish County Council in September for final approval. Both the City of Shoreline and Save RichmondBeach will be submitting responses to the proposed changes.

You can submit your own response in writing now or testify in person if you have concerns about the changes. The council agenda is here. Watch for ordinances 12-068 and 12-069.

You can also watch the Webcast of the meeting here.

Compliance with Growth Board SEPA Issue

Here is the notice we received from Snohomish County this week in regards to the SEPA issues with the Point Wells Urban Center application:

Notice is Hereby Given that the Snohomish County Department of Planning and Development Services (PDS) has issued Addendum No. 1 to the Final SUPPLEMENTAL Environmental Impact Statement for Final Docket XIII amendments to the GMA Comprehensive Plan-Paramount of Washington, LLC. No comment period is required for this addendum under WAC 197-11-502(8)(c).

Purpose of Addendum No. 1 – This addendum provides additional information on the anticipated environmental impacts from a proposed third non-project land use alternative associated with the BSRE Point Wells property, proposed amendments to the Snohomish County Growth Management Act Comprehensive Plan, and proposed amendments to Title 30 SCC. The additional information contained in Addendum No. 1 results in no greater impacts than previously analyzed.


Proposed Non-Project Action: Adoption of ordinances in response to a Growth Management Hearings Board Final Decision and Order dated April 25, 2011.

For more information on this non-project action, contact David Killingstad, 425-388-3311 x2215 or atd.killingstad@snoco.org

Issue Date: August 27, 2012

Addendum No. 1 to the Final Supplemental EIS for Final Docket XIII Amendments to the GMA Comprehensive Plan is available on our website at: www.snoco.org – Keyword: Plans and Reports, then go to the Environmental Documents link.

NOTE: Due to its size, this document has been broken down into three parts:

Addendum – Part 1 

Addendum – Part 2

Addendum – Part 3

If you would like to see Save Richmond Beach continue its efforts please consider becoming a member at saverichmondbeach.org, or volunteer. Everyone is welcome to use their unique talents to help us ensure that the development at Point Wells is appropriate and legal.

SaveRichmondBeach.org is a community-driven non-profit organization dedicated to preserving our communities and Puget Sound through responsible and sustainable planning.


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