How many houses should be on one lot, that is the question before Woodinville City Council Tuesday night when it will continue to hear residents’ concerns about residential development at 7 p.m. at City Hall.
Currently, Woodinville’s municipal code allows developers to put more houses than the R-1 zone allows, with subdivision approval, but the city has never stated the exact minimum size for a residential lot in R-1, the public hearing is to consider Ordinance 532 which attempts to define lot size. The council currently in order to pass an ordinance defining minimum lot size.
Many residents, particularly people living in the rural Wellington neighborhood are concerned that the new ordinance does not go far enough in protecting R-1 which is usually thought of to be one house per one acre, which characterizes most of Wellington. Many of the residents, who spoke at the March 13 council meeting when the public hearing was first opened, said there were loopholes in the new law that could allow for single family house lots to be as small as 12,000 square feet (an acre is 43,560 feet).
The zoning issue is a contentious one as both the city and Wellington homeowners have battled developers about density in the rural areas of Woodinville, which is why the council continued it’s the moratorium in January. Despite the Woodinville City Council approving the temporary moratorium on single-family residential development which exceeds the base zone density, Wood Trails Homes LLC (formerly Phoenix Development LLC) filed an application to build 24 single family houses in the Wellington area of Woodinville, with lots ranging from 12,000-22,344 square feet (see map) just before the moratorium was to go into effect.
Phoenix Development’s History with the City and Wellington
The history of the city, Phoenix Development, Inc. of Lynwood (now called Wood Trails Homes LLC), and residents in Wellington is a long and contentious one.
The , favoring the City of Woodinville andConcerned 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.