Oak Harbor developer wants Board to reconsider appeal denial

The developer Wright’s Crossing, LLC filed a motion to reconsider Thursday after the Growth Management Hearings Board dismissed its appeal.

In December, Wright’s Crossing submitted a petition for review that challenged the Island County Board of Commissioners’ decision to exclude from the planning docket its application for a large-scale development south of Oak Harbor.

The petition asserts that the commissioners were “illegally stalling” the project. Last week the hearings board dismissed the appeal.

“I wasn’t surprised about this outcome because we put a lot of thought into our decision as a board,” said Commissioner Jill Johnson.

Dennis Reynolds, who represents the developer, said the county had an obligation to docket the application.

The motion for reconsideration states that countywide planning policies provisions require docketing and consideration of purposed plan amendments when there are changed circumstances.

“For the Board to allow the County to willingly ignore the housing crisis that exists and delay compliance with mandatory GMA requirements until the next required comprehensive plan update, is fundamentally flawed both as a matter of fact and law,” the motion states

The hearings board’s dismissal said there are no planning policies that would mandate the docketing of the application. It also states the county did not take the decision to exclude the application lightly.

“It wasn’t just a knee-jerk ‘no,’” Johnson said in an interview. “We considered it, and it wasn’t the right time for that kind of work to be done.”

The proposal asked that the city’s urban growth area (UGA) be expanded to include the land slated for development, one step in the regulatory minefield the developer faced before its vision could become a reality. The UGA expansion would require conducting another buildable lands analysis to determine there wasn’t enough capacity within city limits to accommodate projected growth.

The state will be releasing new criteria for performing buildable lands analyses, Johnson said, and this informed the commissioners’ decision to hold off on docketing the application. The previous buildable lands analysis, completed in 2016, found there was enough vacant property within Oak Harbor’s UGA to allow for 20 years worth of growth.

“We hope the city of Oak Harbor will now seriously address the questions of how come all their undeveloped land is not being used for affordable housing, if that’s the real issue,” said Steve Erickson of the Whidbey Island Environmental Action Network, which intervened in the appeal on behalf of Island County.

If the motion is denied, Wright’s Crossing would file an appeal in Thurston County Superior Court, Reynolds said. The developer has also filed a writ of review in Skagit County Superior Court, which is still pending.

“I guess the part that disturbs me is that they’re continuing on this legal path to kind of bully their way in, when it’s taking time and resources from different things we’re trying to do in our community,” Johnson said.

More in News

Naval search and rescue team rescues two people from Cascade Mountains

A Search and Rescue (SAR) team from Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey… Continue reading

Expert: Chief followed protocol

David Marks’ arrest of suspect ‘exactly what we teach’

Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times.
                                Donovan McCulley cheers at the end of the commencement ceremony Saturday.
Oak Harbor grads show ‘inspirational ambition’

Oak Harbor High School’s class of 2018 reached graduation through four years… Continue reading

Power outage planned for Thursday in Coupeville

About 900 Puget Sound Energy customers in Coupeville will be left in… Continue reading

Marc Gallaway
Oak Harbor grad earns state Principal of the Year honor

Marc Gallaway, a 1988 graduate of Oak Harbor High School and currently… Continue reading

Survey shows mostly positive impression of rural events

Though public hearings on the issue have often been contentious on both… Continue reading

Port executive director gets raise

The Port of Coupeville Executive Director is receiving a pay raise. Chris… Continue reading

Planning halts for Freeland sewer

A decades-long effort to bring a sewer system to Freeland has halted… Continue reading

Mucking about looking for squirts in the sand is part of the fun of digging for clams. This summer, Sound Water Stewards teaches six Digging for Dinner classes. Photo provided
Mucking about in clamming class

‘Digging for Dinner’ a popular Sound Water activity

Most Read