The Court Appeal Process
Following the Snohomish County Council’s unanimous vote to uphold the Hearing Examiner’s decision to deny BSRE’s request for additional time and to grant the County’s request to deny the application, BSRE immediately filed an appeal in King County Superior Court.
Just like their previous appeal to the County Council, the appeal to Superior Court can only focus on issues already raised in BSRE’s earlier motion to reconsider the Hearing Examiner’s decision, and BSRE must prove the Hearing Examiner did not follow the facts entered into the record during the public hearing, or mis-applied the law, or that BSRE now has additional information that could not have been introduced at the public hearing. This argument was not persuasive in the appeal to the County Council and it is unlikely to be persuasive to the Court.
No matter what the Court decides it is almost certain that the losing side will appeal to the Court of Appeals, and then to the State Supreme Court. This legal process could take 2 to 3 years before a final decision is issued.
While the appeal process moves slowly through the Court system, both Woodway and Shoreline have recently been active in trying to annex some or all or the Pt. Wells property. We have to go back to 2013 when BSRE deeded to the City of Shoreline property underlying a pumping station at Point Wells that at the time was operated by Ronald Wastewater District. The deed agreement stated that BSRE could regain control of the property if the City did not complete assumption of Ronald before July 1, 2018. On August 30 this year BSRE sent the City a letter stating that BSRE intended to exercise its right to reacquire the property since the planned assumption of Ronald had not yet been completed.
The City believes they have completed assumption of Ronald, but instead of arguing that point, on October 15th the City passed Ordinance 844 authorizing City staff to begin the process of annexing the portions of Point Wells needed to continue operation of the pumping station.
In reaction to the City's vote, the Woodway Town Council voted to approve Resolution 18-406 directing Town staff to start the process for annexing the entire Point Wells property. The Town Mayor published a letter to Town residents and a Q and A document explaining why the Town is moving forward with annexation now. The letter cites desire to control any future development applications and the City of Shoreline's move to annex portions of Point Wells as the main drivers of the Town's annexation action.
To further complicate the annexation issue, the Shoreline City Council passed a motion at the end their October 29th meeting authorizing the City Attorney to file legal action to attempt to block Woodway's annexation attempt. The motion did not identify what grounds the City will use to try to block Woodway.
The Town held a public hearing on November 5th to allow public comment on the resolution and on Ordinance 18-593 (see page 16) to actually implement the annexation. At the end of the hearing the Council decided to take no immediate action on the annexation ordinance to give the Town and the City time to find some compromise that would work for both of them.
Why Can't We Compromise?
Woodway and Shoreline have collectively spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars fighting each other over the Ronald Wastewater assumption. A fight over annexation will only add to that total. As residents and taxpayers in Woodway or Shoreline, it's in our best interest to encourage both Councils to work together toward an equitable solution to these issues. There are compromises that can be made that work for both the Town and the City - we should insist these compromises be made. When the next development application for Point Wells is put forward, we want the City and the Town working together to fight the impact instead of fighting each other over annexation and a small pumping station.