Council Considers Moratorium on Increasing Residential Density Tuesday, Developer Eyeing Wellington

If passed, the moratorium will temporarily stop developers from subdividing plots, thus allowing higher density than the one house per acre R-1 zone. The council meets at city hall at 7 p.m.


Editor's Note: Pervious versions of this story erroneously stated that Phoenix developers were asking for a rezoning of property in the Wellington neighborhood.

The Woodinville City Council will discuss whether to impose a temporary moratorium on single-family residential development which exceeds the base R-1 density of one house per acre at Tuesday night’s meeting. Residents in the Wellington area are concerned their neighborhood is being targeted for new increased-density development by the company that lost a Supreme Court case last year.

Currently, Woodinville’s municipal code allows developers to put more houses than the R-1 zone allows, with subdivision approval. "The city planning commission has  been  studying  this  issue  as  part  of the  moratorium  established  by  the  City Council to study transfer of development rights and density transfers in the single-family zones", according to a staff report.

Phoenix Development Again Considering to Development in Wellington

After the state Supreme Court ruled against the developer last year, Phoenix is once again inquiring about subdividing in the Wellington area. So far, Phoenix has only met with the city, not filed an application, according to Alexandra Sheeks, assistant to the city manager.

The history of the city, Phoenix Development, Inc. of Lynwood, and residents in Wellington is a long and contentious one.

The , favoring the City of Woodinville and Concerned Neighbors of Wellington (CNW) in a land rezone case. In a 9-0 vote, the court agreed that the city was within its rights to deny Phoenix Development a zone change that would have increased the number of houses allowed in the Wellington neighborhood.

The case started when , which owns two undeveloped properties in the northeast area of Woodinville known as Wellington, requested a zone change from R-1 (meaning one house per acre) to R-4 (four house per acre) in 2004. According to court documents, the developer wanted to build 66 houses on 38.7 acres (1.7 houses per acre) as one subdivision and 66 houses on 16.48 acres (4.005 houses per acre) as a second development.

After CNW raised objections to the developer’s plan, the city looked more closely at the proposed zone change. After two years of reviewing the proposed development for environmental impacts and its compliance with the city’s growth plan and codes, the city denied the rezone. Phoenix sued the city and in 2008, Superior Court Judge Dean Lum ruled in favor of the city. Phoenix Development appealed to the Court of Appeals, which overturned the previous decision, ruling in Phoenix Development’s favor. The case was then appealed to the state’s highest court by the city and CNW.

Randy Koetje January 24, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Annie, The lead in to this article is not clear in my opinion. The moratorium is written to stop transfer of density rights which would allow higher densities. The moratorium is not written to “temporarily stop developers from subdividing plots”. For example, a homeowner with a 2 acre lot in the R1, will still be allowed to subdivide their property into two 1 acre lots (1 acre minimum base density assumed). The moratorium will NOT allow higher density than the one house per acre in the R1 zone. The City Council’s action to invoke the moratorium is encouraging, especially if it is enforceable citywide. In recent years in the R-4 and R-6 zones of the city in particular, average lot sizes are much smaller than should be allowed, namely due to the transfer of density rights that the zoning code allowed. Housing Data and lot sizes for the city are available at citychord.com, that shows average lots sizes in the R-4 and R-6 zones since 2002. The zoning code is in dire need of revision, not only to address the TDR issue, but also to address the bleak housing choice issue that the city offers. R1, R8 and Multifamily is not enough choices for a vibrant city.


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