BSRE’s attempt to develop Point Wells as a high-density Urban Center is officially dead, Shoreline Area News reports.
Since about 1900, Point Wells has been a tank farm. Point Wells is a low-lying property on Puget Sound in unincorporated Snohomish County, directly north of Shoreline. The only road to Point Wells is through Shoreline.
BSRE Point Wells, LP (BSRE) owns the land at Point Wells (about 61 acres). An unrelated oil company owns the pier, the fuel and oil tanks, pipes, and other structures.
Since June 2020, the marine fuel and asphalt oil operations have been quiet. No vessels have offloaded or loaded marine fuel as they had in the past, no trains have offloaded asphalt oil, and no tanker trucks have transported it.
In 2011, BSRE submitted land use applications to Snohomish County to develop Point Wells as a high-density Urban Center. BSRE proposed to build about 3,000 residential units, in buildings as tall as 180 feet, plus over 100,000 square feet of commercial space. Since 2011, BSRE has spent over $10 million attempting to get its applications approved.
Snohomish County twice denied BSRE’s applications due to substantial conflicts with the county’s development code. The county’s most recent denial of BSRE’s applications was upheld by the state Court of Appeals in December 2022.
In March 2023, BSRE filed a petition for review with the Washington Supreme Court, hoping that the Court would accept its petition and reverse the Court of Appeals decision. That did not happen.
On July 11, 2023, the Washington Supreme Court denied BSRE’s petition for review. As a result, BSRE’s attempt to develop Point Wells as a high-density Urban Center is officially dead. The county’s denial of BSRE’s applications, as upheld by the state Court of Appeals, is final.
Now we must wait to see what BSRE, and the unrelated oil company, will try to do next.
Will BSRE try to gain approval to develop Point Wells as a smaller-scale Urban Village, with perhaps 400 to 800 residential units, plus a second access road? As long as Point Wells remains unincorporated — that is, as long as it is not annexed by the Town of Woodway or the City of Shoreline — any application by BSRE to develop Point Wells as an Urban Village must be submitted to the county for processing.
Or will BSRE work with the oil company, and try to resume the site’s marine fuel and asphalt oil storage and distribution operations, a nonconforming use under the site’s current Urban Village zoning? Under the county’s code, if the oil company’s marine fuel and asphalt oil operations are determined to have been “discontinued” for more than 12 months, the oil company cannot resume its “nonconforming” operations.
While there are strong arguments that operations have been discontinued, the oil company could try to argue that, even though there has been no offloading, loading, or distribution of marine fuel and asphalt oil since June 2020, operations were never completely discontinued because it continues to employ a small crew, apparently to oversee management of the storm water system, and maintenance and repair of the equipment to keep it in running order.
Meanwhile, annexation lurks. Pursuant to a 2019 Settlement and Interlocal Agreement between the City of Shoreline and the Town of Woodway, the Town of Woodway has the first opportunity to annex Point Wells. As an initial annexation hurdle, the town must successfully negotiate an annexation interlocal agreement with the City of Shoreline, the county, and Olympic View Water and Sewer District.
If the town is successful, then the town’s elected Council would need to vote in favor of annexation. If the town fails to annex Point Wells, then the City of Shoreline will have an opportunity to annex it.
Stay tuned for further developments.
— By Tom McCormick