Judge to decide on Walsh Hills housing development proposal
SNOHOMISH — A Superior Court judge is deciding whether the Walsh Hills subdivision can proceed in northeast Snohomish.
On July 8, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Paul W. Thompson heard arguments from attorneys for the petitioner, for the city and for Walsh Hills’ developer D.R. Horton.
His adjudicative decision may come the week of July 19, an
attorney in the case said.
The development is being challenged through a land use petition from Marty Robinett, who owns a home abutting the site. He and attorneys assert the city misinterpreted its development code when it approved Walsh Hills and sought a judge’s review.
Many residents living in the enclave of Terrace Avenue and its offshoot streets oppose placing 111 homes inside a 20-acre plot. The site is the former Delta Rehabilitation Center, which closed in 2019.
The site has split zoning, with one part for single-family housing facing the street and the larger back side zoned for medium-density residential.
A central piece in the litigation is whether a type of zoning called a “unit-lot subdivision,” which allows tighter lot lines, can be used for a single-family housing development on that medium-density area.
Attorneys all characterized the city code on unit lot subdivisions as complex.
Robinett’s attorneys argued that the city did not correctly apply the city design review standards which all developments must meet, including this one.
Attorneys for the city and DR Horton say a design review is a step beyond the initial approval process. Robinett’s attorney David Bricklin argued the design review does include this because it discusses where buildings are placed on the lot.
The facts aren’t being contested, Bricklin argued in court. “It’s an issue of pure law.”
D.R. Horton’s attorney Duana Kolouskova said if DR Horton is denied from building single-family homes here, the alternative could be apartments or other higher-density development. The land is zoned for 18 units per acre. The company made the same point that it is building less than the maximum when addressing the city’s hearing examiner in January.
In court, Kolouskova said the single-family housing which is proposed “meets a balance” for neighbors.
City attorney Nikki Thompson, defending D.R. Horton’s project, said that “it achieved the density obligations and is consistent of the character of the surrounding development.”
At 111 houses, Walsh Hills is the largest proposed development in the pipeline within city limits, a city development report shows. The next biggest single-family housing development is a 28-home subdivision in the 8100 block of Ludwig Road.
Check out our online publications!