(UPDATED FRIDAY MORNING with comment from City Attorney’s Office – scroll down)
(WSB photo taken tonight: Original house at right, under-construction house at left)
8:52 PM: King County Superior Court Judge Mariane Spearman‘s ruling is in, following last Friday’s hearing (WSB coverage here) on the Benchview neighborhood’s fight over boundaries for three potential home sites where one house had stood for decades. We’ve just downloaded the court documents, after getting e-mail with this link to the neighbors’ report on the ruling. While Judge Spearman ruled for the city on two technical points, she ruled against the big point the neighborhood had challenged – the configuration the city had approved for the “lot boundary adjustment” to create three building lots on the site at 55th and Manning, shown in this graphic enhanced by neighbor David Allen:
We’re going back through the court document for more details and will add to this followup.
ADDED 9:31 PM: Here’s the 13-page ruling (PDF); embedded, below:
Do note, this case was NOT a lawsuit – it was a challenge brought under the Land Use Petition Act.
From the ruling – the two points on which Judge Spearman sided with the city: One, that it was proper for the city to say the “historic lot exception” applied here; though only one home sat on the corner for 60 years, the land technically was four lots, platted at 2500 square feet. The city had already ruled that one of those lots could not be considered separate because part of it “is needed to satisfy the current rear yard requirement for the existing house.” Two, that it was OK for the owner/developers’ application to have been treated as a Lot Boundary Adjustment case that did not require more public involvement.
The point on which the neighborhood won involves a deck whose presence, as the judge sees it, consolidates three of the four “lots” into one because it juts over the line, and therefore requires the city to change its calculations for the minimum allowable lot size. As a result, one of the three newly boundary-adjusted lots is too small, the judge ruled.
The question now is whether the city will challenge the judge’s ruling. We’ll be seeking comment tomorrow. We originally reported in January on the neighborhood’s concerns.
ADDED 1:23 AM: We asked Benchview’s Dave Allen for comment:
We are thrilled that Judge Spearman made a key ruling in favor of the Benchview neighborhood. By reversing the City’s approval of part of the lot boundary adjustment, the rest of the LBA falls apart and is nullified.
We trust the City will comply with the judge’s decision. The developer can submit a fresh LBA application. But according to City law, the house he is building on the property now disqualifies him from claiming three total lots. Now he only has two.
Two houses on these two lots has always been the fair and reasonable solution. Now it’s the law.
ADDED 10:03 AM FRIDAY: As promised, we contacted the City Attorney’s Office. From spokesperson Kimberly Mills: “We are considering the judge’s ruling. As always, the options include doing nothing (accepting the ruling), seeking reconsideration from the judge, or appealing to the Division One of the Court of Appeals. We have not yet resolved which option to pursue.”