State Supreme Court denies review of YarrowBay developments in Black Diamond

Map of Black Diamond showing The Villages and Lawson Hills sites. - Courtesy graphic
Map of Black Diamond showing The Villages and Lawson Hills sites.
— image credit: Courtesy graphic

Court of Appeals ruling

The state Supreme Court has denied a petition for review by Toward Responsible Development of the Court of Appeals decision upholding developer YarrowBay’s plans for two master planned developments in Black Diamond.

The Supreme Court denied the petition and awarded court costs to YarrowBay June 3.

Mayor Becky Olness was mayor during the hearings and approval of permits for the two master planned development, Lawson Hills and The Villages.

Olness said of the ruling, "Once again the courts have upheld that the city did it right. We did everything according to the law. This proves what we have been saying all along."

Olness took considerable criticism during the 2012 mayoral race because of the YarrowBay developments. She lost her bid for a second term to Mayor Dave Gordon.

Bob Edelman, president of Toward Responsible Development, wrote in an email concerning the ruling, "We are, of course, disappointed but it was not unexpected. The Supreme Court grants review to very few petitioners and ours didn’t make the cut. The court never gives a reason. We will continue to monitor YarrowBay very closely to ensure that they meet the conditions of their permits. Also, part of the lower court’s decision that still stands is that a supplemental EIS is expected for later phases of the project. That will address some of the public’s concerns since that gives the city the ability to impose additional mitigation measures where needed."

Edelman said he will need to discuss the issue of court costs with his attorney, David Bricklin.

Concerning an appeal of the development agreement of the projects, Edelman said, "We will be withdrawing our appeal of the DA (development agreements) since it was contingent on a favorable decision on the underlying MPD (master planned developments) and EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) appeal."

Edelman's wife, Janie Edelman, is a member Black Diamond City Council.

The Court of Appeals panel of judges, C. Kenneth Grosse, Ronald E. Cox and James Verellen, ruled unanimously on Jan. 27 that Phil Olbrechts, the Black Diamond hearing examiner, properly applied the “rule of reason” in finding that the environmental impact statement adequately addressed the impacts from the developments.

Toward Responsible Development lost its Land Use Petition Act appeal in King County Superior Court before Judge Patrick Oishi and requested a review by the Appeals Court.

Following the Appeals Court ruling, which also awarded court cost to the developer, YarrowBay filed a cost bill brief  Feb. 6 requesting $153,237.46 in attorney fees and expenses and $425.93 in court costs. The city of Black Diamond also filed a cost bill brief requesting $30,275.50 for the services of Kenyon Disend, the Issaquah firm that was providing city attorney services. The city also requested 174.68 in court cost.

Clearing and grading work began in December on Villages Phase 1A, about a 93-acre area.

This phase of the project includes plans for 378 single family homes, 395 multi-family units, nine townhouses, 190,000 square feet of commercial space, parks and a site where an elementary school could be built in the future.

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