Judge dismisses most of claims against Woodway fields project; next hearing Oct. 16

A Snohomish County Superior Court judge on Friday dismissed many of the claims filed by Edmonds resident Mark Wall, who is appealing the Edmonds City Council’s land use decision regarding an athletic field complex planned for the former Woodway High School.

During the Friday hearing, Judge Bruce Weiss dismissed 12 of 15 claims that the school district had requested be thrown out. Weiss set an Oct. 16 court date to hear the three remaining claims.

“The school district is pleased that Judge Weiss recognized that the majority of claims asserted in the land use petition were meritless and dismissed,” said Edmonds School District Executive Director of Business and Operations Stewart Myhre.

The school district this summer is installing two artificial turf fields at the Old Woodway site, located next to Edmonds Heights K-12 school, in a project jointly sponsored by the district, the City of Edmonds and the Verdant Health Commission.

For several months, project opponents have been urging the school district to delay action on the project, citing health and environmental impacts related to the tire crumb infill being used on the fields. The school board in May voted to proceed with the field installation, and the Edmonds City Council is scheduled to make a decision at its Aug. 4 meeting whether to approve an interlocal agreement with the school district to operate the fields

Wall’s May 20 land-use appeal, however, did not address the turf safety issue, but instead focused on the way the project was reviewed and permitted. He was an official “party of record” during the City of Edmonds Hearing Examiner’s March 26 open record hearing on the school district’s request for a conditional use permit for the project. Hearing Examiner Phil Olbrechts in his April 10 recommendation to the City Council to approve bleachers and and fencing for the project, cited a traffic engineering report prepared by Wall as a reason for denying field lights for the project

The three claims remaining for consideration during the Snohomish County Superior Court hearing Oct. 16 focus on whether the city council acted unlawfully when it:

  • Didn’t require a conditional use application for installing synthetic turf fields as part of the project.
  • Didn’t remand to the City Hearing Examiner testimony concerning permits for synthetic turf field installation.
  • Determined under current city zoning code “that a regional, year-round sports facility intended to serve private adult leagues comprise ‘playfields’.”

Wall said he has accrued $20,000 in legal fees fighting the project. As a result, opponents of the athletic facility have created a GoFundme account to help pay the legal expenses.

“I didn’t have time to run around and try to raise money when this started,” Wall said. “We had to file our lawsuit in a short amount of time or we would have missed the deadline and had no recourse.

“If people care about crumb rubber, saving the last green open space and protecting health and the environment, court is the only thing that’s going to hold government officials accountable,” he added.

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