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Judge sides with city on Walsh Hills subdivision challenge

SNOHOMISH — The Walsh Hills subdivision meets code, a Snohomish County Superior Court judge decided July 29.
Homebuilder DR Horton plans to redevelop the 20-acre site of the former Snohomish Chalet (Delta Rehabilitation) care center, which closed in 2019, into 111 houses. The site is off Terrace Avenue in a pocket of northeast Snohomish.
A landowner next to the property filed a land-use challenge in court asking to send it back for re-review. The argument was the city’s hearing examiner wrongly interpreted Snohomish zoning code when he approved the subdivision earlier this year.
Judge Paul W. Thompson didn’t agree, writing in his decision that it wasn’t proven the hearing examiner made a mistake. He wrote in response to this challenge that “the code was property applied to the plain meaning of the development regulations of the Snohomish Municipal Code. The project was properly approved.”
A central piece in the litigation was whether a type of zoning called a “unit-lot subdivision” which allows tighter lot lines, could be used for a single-family housing development on that medium-density area. DR Horton is exercising this zoning to be able to place 94 homes within a 16-acre section of the site.
The land-use challenge said using unit-lot subdivision zoning for single-family housing is misapplying its purpose.
Attorneys on both sides characterized this section of the city’s codes as complicated during court proceedings and in papers. Thompson mentioned this in his decision, writing that the city code is “confusing and in need of updating” but that “this Court is not left with a firm definite belief that a mistake in interpretation or application was made.”
The land-use petition was from Marty Robinett, whose LLC owns a home abutting the site. If Robinett wants to appeal Judge Thompson’s decision, it would be taken to the state Court of Appeals. A voicemail left last week with one of Robinett’s attorneys, David Bricklin, asking if this appeal would happen was not returned by deadline.
In the court hearing in early July, Robinett’s attorneys also argued that the city did not correctly apply the city design review standards which all developments must meet, including this one, before allowing it to proceed.
In court, attorneys for the city and DR Horton argued that a design review is a step beyond the initial approval process. Bricklin argued the design review does include this because it discusses where buildings are placed on the lot.




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