Woodway Town Council approves annexation of Point Wells

The abandoned buildings and oil tanks for Point Wells.
The abandoned buildings and oil tanks at Point Wells.

The Woodway Town Council voted 4–1 May 20 to annex Point Wells, which is a 67-acre unincorporated area located in Snohomish County that borders Woodway and Shoreline. The land is owned by BSRE Point Wells, LP (BSRE), a subsidiary of Blue Square Real Estate, LTD – an Israeli real estate company – which itself is a subsidiary of Alon Blue Square Israel LTD.

Councilmembers Elizabeth Mitchell, John Brock, Rajeev Thakur and Steven Mitchell voted in favor while Councilmember Jim Willett was opposed.

Point Wells, located at the northern end of Richmond Beach Drive, is home to a contaminated marine fuel and asphalt oil storage and distribution facility. (Read more about its history here.) It is currently zoned by Snohomish County for commercial and mixed-use development, with a portion zoned for industrial use. The Town of Woodway has been planning since 1999 for the eventual annexation of Point Wells, as it falls within Woodway’s municipal urban growth area under Washington’s Growth Management Act. However, annexation by Woodway is not required, and some Woodway residents have concerns about potential development under Snohomish County’s jurisdiction that may conflict with their quality of life.

About 60 people gathered at the Woodway Town Hall May 20 to hear about the proposed annexation of Point Wells.

Several Wooday residents speaking during a public hearing on the topic Monday said they wanted to delay the annexation. “I would like more information on exactly what the Town would propose to do with [Point Wells] if we annexed it,” said Linda Tripp, a 54-year Woodway resident. “So far I haven’t seen that, so that bothers me about annexing now.”

Resident Bill Krepick held up a petition with 36 signatures to delay the annexation. “There are too many open issues,” he said. “Just look at what happened with Twin Maples. A simple issue – speed bumps in the road – totally miscommunicated. The council didn’t know how many people were in favor or against it. Just multiply that situation by 100 fold. That’s how complicated Point Wells is. I guarantee you nobody knows the answer to Point Wells. I am pleading with you…to delay this hearing. No reason to do it…at least a six-month delay, preferably one year. I don’t want my tax dollars to pay legal fees when we don’t want that annexation.”

Woodway resident Bill Krepick holds a petition with 36 signatures requesting the council delay the annexation.

Richmond Beach resident Tom McCormick, who fought past efforts to develop Point Wells as an Urban Center, said that the council should delay the decision on annexation until early next year. That’s when the lawsuit between BSRE and Alon Asphalt – which owns the oil tanks, pipes and other equipment on the property –  would likely be settled.

“I am concerned about the environment, the Shoreline Master Program,” McCormick said. “[Snohomish County] has a program that covers all of Point Wells west of the tracks and provides protections for the ecosystem, greater beach access, recreational opportunities and enhanced development restrictions.” In contrast, the Town’s program only covers a 200-foot strip near the water, and McCormick sees that as a cutback in shoreline environmental protection.

Point Wells via Google Earth

In December 2022, the Washington State Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision that Snohomish County was justified in ending BSRE’s 3,000-plus unit Urban Center development project. The Washington Supreme Court refused to consider BSRE’s appeal. Point Wells now falls under the county’s stricter Urban Village zoning regulations.

The Washington State Supreme Court also ruled in favor of Woodway, stating that Ronald Wastewater District, Shoreline and King County have no right to provide sewer services within Point Wells. This decision ended the developer BSRE’s plans for a high-density urban center at Point Wells. 

Among those who favor the annexation, many said that they would rather see Woodway “be in control” of Point Wells rather than having “outsiders” do something with the land that they do not want.

Members of the Woodway Town Council at the May 20 public hearing.

“I’m very supportive of the annexation of Point Wells,” said resident Ron Cantu, who highlighted previous annexations in the 20th century that allowed Woodway to grow while preserving the quality of life. “I believe a positive decision will secure additional tax and income plus to determine our own ordinance. Simply put, to be successful in negotiations with [BSRE], the Town of Woodway must have zoning authority and control.”

Cantu compared the story of Woodway with the 1959 British film The Mouse That Roared. “If we wish to make Woodway’s independence, we must occasionally roar. Please support incorporation,” he said.

“The [suggested] delays could actually undo the interlocal agreements that we had worked so hard for, for Shoreline and Snohomish County,” former Woodway Mayor Carla Nichols said. “We have well-thought out development [plans] that can manage and guide any future development that is proposed for Point Wells.”

Woodway Town Administrator Eric Faison speaks about Point Wells.

There are no immediate plans for Woodway to purchase the land. Woodway Town Administrator Eric Faison said that under current county regulations, Point Wells could be a site for 400 single-family units to 800 multi-family housing units, but this is “pure speculation.” 

“[Point Wells] is a private property,” Faison said. “Development would be proposed by the property owner and subject to the regulatory approval of the Town.”

— Story and photos by Nick Ng

  1. A sad day for the ‘silent majority’ in Woodway who were steamrollered by a small number of vocal residents who repeated the Mayor’s mantra of “control, control, control’ without understanding the 10-year history of the contentious Point Wells development and without giving credit to the County and Shoreline, not Woodway, who were the principals behind terminating BSRE’s outrageous 3,000 unit skyscraper development. These same individuals say they can’t trust Shoreline to develop Point Wells! The Mayor and Council did not support transparent and full disclosure leading up to the Hearing and spent legal fees to shut down a petition from 44 Richmond Beach residents who asked for an annexation delay/Public Hearing from the County Boundary Review Board in January. [See Woodway website for 20+ Public Comments against annexation in 2024]. The Council reversed their decision to install $20,000 speed humps in Twin Maples neighborhood after 27 residents petitioned, yet they wouldn’t listen to 36 petitioners who asked for a delay in the annexation decision – in order to avoid hundreds of thousands of dollars in litigation. BSRE has an infinite legal budget and they forced Snohomish Count taxpayers to pay over $750,000 in unreimbursed fees for hearings, court cases and design reviews. The Woodway Council apparently thinks mythical ‘control’ is worth the legal risk. Woodway taxpayers are the losers in this railroaded decision.

    1. I don’t feel it is yet possible to determine if this decision is good or bad as the council has unfortunately done a very poor job of summarizing the pros / cons / risks along with answering why now? The decision is also not very democratic but that’s almost built into the public consultation process from what I can tell. Probably a coin toss now as to whether this will have a long term benefit (control + tax revenue) or detriment to the town as a whole, and decisions like this should be less random in their outcomes.

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