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NSD deal to purchase Wellington Park paused amid lawsuit from Woodinville

The Woodinville Weekly of Woodinville, Washington

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The Northshore School District's potential plan to purchase the Wellington Hills Park from Snohomish County has been put on pause, at least for now.

The School Board had planned to vote on the deal at its Oct. 27 meeting, but that was pulled from the agenda after the city of Woodinville filed a lawsuit against Snohomish County to stop the sale.

The vote was pulled to give the Board a chance to learn more about the lawsuit and its potential impacts on the district, said Leanna Albrecht, NSD director of communications.

The suit alleges that the proposed deal violates Snohomish County's own rules and regulations. Woodinville has an existing suit from 2013 that brings up many of the same complaints regarding the county's previous plan to build a sports complex on Wellington Hills Park.

In 2013, Woodinville filed a suit saying the county's plan to build a regional sports complex, with turf soccer fields and anin door mountain bike area among other amenities, was not only inconsistent with the county's Growth Management Act, but also that the county hadn't done the full environmental impact statement required under the State Environmental Policy Act.

The county had filed a determination of nonsignificance, meaning that the unmitigated impact of building the park would be light, and an environmental impact study wasn't necessary.

In its 2013 suit, the city of Woodinville countered that the impact the park would have on traffic on the nearby small rural roads, as well as other impacts, would be significant, and the county would need to study it more.

In response to the suit, the county withdrew its determination of nonsignificance, said Peter Eglick, the attorney representing Woodinville in the suit, and agreed to tone down some of the plans for the park.

As far Eglick knew, that was where they stood.

It was a bit of a surprise, then, when the county and the Northshore School District took announced a potential deal last month to sell the 104-acre property to the school district as a possible future school site.

"They never told us they were in fact [in] behind the scenes negotiation to sell the entire park," Eglick said.

He pointed out that the county's Comprehensive Plan, the one which just recently went into effect, counts Wellington among the county's parks.

"That's why we filed the lawsuit," Eglick said. "It's completely fromleft field, and completely against every adoptedlawthey have on the books."

Jason Cummings, the chief civil deputy prosecutor for Snohomish County, said he could not discuss details of the lawsuit, since it is pending litigation.

He did say the county received the complaint, and said "we'll review the complaint and respond accordingly."

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Original Publication Date: November 2, 2015

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