SWC files motion for reconsideration

Seeks ability for public and agencies to review and comment on traffic, stormwater conditions imposed by the hearing examiner

On Sept. 27, Save Weyerhaeuser Campus filed a motion for reconsideration of the hearing examiner’s Sept. 12 decision on the Warehouse A project, in the areas of traffic and compliance with the Hylebos Basin Plan.

In our motion, SWC argues that Hearing Examiner Phil Olbrechts’ decision adds new conditions to the Warehouse A environmental approval for traffic and stormwater, but “both conditions are vague and subject to substantial interpretation.”

In addition, we argue that there is no mechanism for public review and comment on the changes ordered by the hearing examiner, leaving the determination of compliance up to the city and IRG.

The following is a summary of our arguments (read the full motion for reconsideration here):

Traffic impacts: The record of the appeal hearing does not support findings that cumulative traffic impacts meet acceptable standards or will be adequately mitigated. Instead, the record shows that cumulative traffic impacts will violate standards at the most important intersection affected — the signalized intersection of Weyerhaeuser Way South and Highway18. The traffic condition imposed by the hearing examiner will not adequately mitigate for traffic impacts.

Hylebos Basin Plan: The hearing examiner should reconsider the conditions he imposed regarding compliance with the Hylebos Basin Plan. The supplementation of the stormwater plan should be for all stormwater generated by the cumulative impact of IRG’s five proposed projects, Warehouse A, Warehouse B and the Greenline Business Park (3 additional warehouses).

“Given that the city staff and its counsel have completely ignored the [Hylebos] Plan in the City’s initial review (Final Decision, page 4, lines 14-18), a mechanism for review and comment is necessary. In addition, the Hylebos plan is a multi-jurisdictional plan and the condition makes no provision for review, approval or even comment by King County, other jurisdictions or impacted tribes.”

We ask that the hearing examiner send the matter back to the city staff for further analysis and consideration, details in a revised staff report and decision on the project. “There should be notice of materials submitted regarding traffic and stormwater, the opportunity for public comment and appeal.”

The hearing examiner said one option under consideration is “a limited scope remand limited to considering pro-rata mitigation for cumulative traffic impacts and compliance with the Executive Proposed Basin Plan Hylebos Creek and Lower Puget Sound. This is not synonymous with a limited scope EIS — rather  this would be a re-evaluation of the SEPA threshold determination for the traffic mitigation and re-evaluation of stormwater plan compliance with the Executive Proposed Basin Plan Hylebos Creek and Lower Puget Sound.”

This approach would be more efficient, he said, than sending the entire project back to the city for re-evaluation. “Of course, if consideration of these issues resulted in modifications to the proposal, the modifications would be subject to full review as well.”

Anyone who provided written or verbal comment for the appeal hearing or requested notice of the decision may respond to the SWC motion for reconsideration by 5 p.m. Oct. 8. No new evidence will be allowed in any submitted comments. IRG and the city may submit a response by 5 p.m. Oct. 10, then SWC may submit a reply by 5 p.m. Oct. 14. Responses can be emailed to the city clerk at Stephanie.Courtney@cityoffederalway.com or delivered her at  Federal Way City Hall, 33325 8th Ave. S.

If any of the parties disagree with the hearing examiner’s decision, they can seek judicial review in King County Superior Court by filing a land use petition. The petition must be filed within 21 days . The land use petition must be filed within 21 days after the hearing examiner decision is issued to file a land use petition in King County Superior Court for judicial review.

You can support Save Weyerhaeuser Campus' legal advocacy with a donation of any amount

Save Weyerhaeuser Campus is a 501(c)(3) organization: EIN 81-3674786

Partial victory in Warehouse A appeal

Highlights from the hearing examiner's ruling:

  • Two new conditions were added to the city's land-use and environmental approvals.
  • The city failed to assess the project's compliance under a Hylebos Creek basin plan and in fact said the city had not adopted the plan -- even though it had.
  • Community members and agencies had asked the city to require the project to comply with the basin plan.
  • It's unclear whether the community and agencies will be allowed to comment on the city's review of the plan and any mitigation proposed.

No development activity for Industrial Realty Group's Warehouse A project can occur until two new conditions are met, the hearing examiner for Federal Way said in a September 12 ruling. The conditions are:

1. Supplement the stormwater analysis and determination of mitigation for Warehouse A to demonstrate it complies with King County’s Executive Proposed Basin Plan Hylebos Creek and Lower Puget Sound Basin Plan. Although the plan is adopted in the Federal Way code, the city didn't address it in the Warehouse A review, the examiner noted. (In fact, he noted in his decision, the city stated in its closing brief that it hadn't adopted the plan, “none of the City witnesses identified any comprehensive application of the plan and the stormwater reports submitted into the record don’t identify that it was even considered.”)

2. Complete a transportation review for IRG's adjoining Greenline Business Park project (three additional warehouses) so that cumulative traffic impacts from all of its proposed warehouses on the campus are known. Determine any Warehouse A mitigation needed because of the overall traffic impacts.

Also in his ruling, the hearing examiner agreed with Save Weyerhaeuser Campus that the city was required to review and mitigate the cumulative impacts of all five warehouses (A, B and the business park) that IRG is proposing on the campus, not just one warehouse at a time.

However, the examiner concluded that the city had conducted such review and the impacts "have been adequately assessed and mitigated." The impacts from all five warehouses, more than 1.5 million square feet of space, include traffic, environmental and historic significance.

Although some of the decision is disappointing, Save Weyerhaeuser Campus is not giving up on its efforts, said SWC President Lori Sechrist,

“Save Weyerhaeuser Campus has worked relentlessly for three years to preserve and protect this precious and rare South King County green space,” Sechrist said. “Our work as a nonprofit organization, supported by hundreds of individuals from our community and region — including George Weyerhaeuser himself — continues."

"The SWC Board of Directors is reviewing its options as it continues its efforts to ensure development on the former Weyerhaeuser campus is environmentally and socially responsible,” Sechrist added.

Earlier news:

Warehouse A appeal hearings wrap up; listen to audio from the hearing

After five days of hearings, the Save Weyerhaeuser Campus appeal of IRG's Warehouse A project concluded on Aug. 9, 2019. A major focus of SWC's appeal is the contention that the City of Federal Way was required to consider cumulative impacts from all five of IRG's proposed warehouses on the campus, not just impacts of Warehouse A.

The hearing examiner is expected to rule in the case in early September.

Listen to the hearing here:  June 20     June 21    August 7     August 8      August 9

Read the closing argument briefs from SWC, IRG and the city.

The hearing began June 20-21, but was continued for more than six weeks after the hearing examiner ruled that public comment had to be allowed under the city's appeal regulations. The August dates were the earliest available to accommodate publication of the public notice and the schedules of all the parties involved. The third day of the hearing (Aug. 7) included oral public comments; the public was also allowed to submit written comments

Warehouse A is the first of five warehouse/industrial buildings proposed by Industrial Realty Group of California on the historic Weyerhaeuser campus. The appeal is the latest step in SWC's nearly three-year fight to assure that responsible, appropriate development and mitigation occur on the campus, which may qualify as a National Historic Landmark.

Click to read our original appeal.

This is just part of the semi-truck loading area for Warehouse 

Seeking the 'big picture' view

SWC is seeking review of the cumulative effects from ALL of IRG's projects on the campus, so that the "big picture" of impacts to traffic, the environment and the integrity of the historic design can be appropriately considered and mitigated. 

Industrial Realty Group's other two projects on the campus -- Warehouse B  (adjacent to Warehouse A), and the three-warehouse Greenline Business Park on the northern part of the campus -- are continuing through the application review process. (In case you're confused, IRG initially renamed the campus Greenline but more recently changed the name to Woodbridge Corporate Park. The permit applications were filed under the Greenline name, so that's why it continues being used.)

The SWC legal team appealed the city's SEPA (environmental) decision for Warehouse A that was issued in October 2018 and the land-use decision that was issued in February 2019.  The two appeals were combined into a single hearing as required by law.

Under the Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance for Warehouse A, the city specified several migitation measures required during construction, and a provision that Weyerhaeuser Way must be completely rebuilt if more than 28 trucks per week travel north of the project site.

However, the Washington State Department of Transportation and the King County Department of Transportation raised concerns about significant impacts of traffic from all three projects, and requested they be studied comprehensively, not one at a time. A WSDOT representative was among experts testifying for SWC in the appeal.

In addition, the Puyallup and Muckleshoot Tribes requested further environmental study of cumulative impacts to the Hylebos stream system, which downstream provides habitat for endangered species including steelhead, chinook and bull trout. Millions of dollars have been spent on habitat restoration downstream from the Warehouse A site.

After reviewing the comments, the city added a requirement (requested by the WSDOT) that IRG expand part of the off-ramp from Highway 18 to Weyerhaeuser Way, but did not require comprehensive study of the cumulative impacts from the three project proposals.

Save Weyerhaeuser Campus also believes that comprehensive review is required because of the significant cumulative impacts of the three projects -- including the potential of more than 800 semi-truck trips to the campus every day. Although IRG has submitted these projects separately, they share common ownership, road system, stream system and zoning. 

You can support Save Weyerhaeuser Campus' legal advocacy with a donation of any amount

Save Weyerhaeuser Campus is a 501(c)(3) organization: EIN 81-3674786