Mercer Island City Council votes to appeal I-90 decisions to higher court

  • Tuesday, April 25, 2017 11:37am
  • News

At the close of business on April 21, the city received a written ruling on the lawsuit by Sound Transit challenging the city’s ability to invoke its land use authority over the conditions of the building permit for the proposed Mercer Island light rail station in Town Center, according to a city news release.

In a special session convened Monday, the City Council voted unanimously to immediately appeal the ruling by King County Superior Court Judge Beth Andrus.

The Judge acknowledged the city’s “serious and well-founded concerns” regarding traffic and safety impacts related to the closure of the I‑90 center roadway for rail construction, but determined that the city’s code was preempted by the authority of the Washington State Department of Transportation, as delegated to Sound Transit by lease agreement.

In her written decision, Judge Andrus preliminarily enjoined the city from invoking its land use authority pursuant to Title 19 of the Mercer Island City Code as to the I-90 Right of Way and the East Link Light Rail project.

“Giving each municipality along the I-90 right-of-way the authority to use local zoning laws to prevent construction of light rail facilities would completely undermine the plenary authority given to WSDOT to manage and regulate the use of state highways,” according to the ruling.

On April 7, Judge Andrus ruled in favor of Sound Transit in another lawsuit regarding Interstate 90 access, prohibiting the city of Mercer Island from rescinding the Shoreline Substantial Development Permit.

The judge determined that state law does not allow the city to address adverse impacts that occur outside the shoreline jurisdiction using the shoreline permit. Mercer Island also intends to appeal that decision to the Washington State Supreme Court.

There is also a third lawsuit in the mix, initiated by the city of Mercer Island and claiming a breach of contract by Sound Transit and WSDOT, based on a memorandum from 1976. No hearing date has been set.

On a parallel track with litigation, the city is pursuing the possibility of a negotiated solution. Three Councilmembers met Monday with three representatives of the Sound Transit Board to explore possible terms of such an agreement, including project mitigation.

At its April 17 meeting, the City Council lifted one of the moratoria regarding light rail and I-90. The council passed an emergency amendment to its zoning code to expressly authorize light rail as a permissible use in the I-90 right-of-way, allowing the city to resume processing the building permit application for the Mercer Island Station.

To learn more about recent negotiations and litigation history, visit www.mercergov.org/Rail-FAQ.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@mi-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.mi-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

[flipp]

More in News

Mercer Island police car. File photo.
Taylor Swift CD stolen; Baja Blast, cake and cigarettes swiped at Chevron | Police blotter

A sampling from the most recent Mercer Island police blotter.

Stock image
Campgrounds to reopen in 22 Washington counties

Campgrounds in counties actively in Phase 2 of the reopening plan will begin to welcome visitors June 1, state says.

King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht. FILE PHOTO
King County sheriff releases message about Minneapolis Police officer

Mitzi Johanknecht calls video of officer kneeling on neck of George Floyd ‘heartbreaking and disturbing’

How is COVID-19 affecting Mercer Island?

A new King County data dashboard shows city-specific case rates, unemployment numbers and more.

File photo of construction near North Bend on Aug. 16. Sound Publishing file photo
                                File photo of construction near North Bend on Aug. 16. Sound Publishing file photo
Rural King County mayors want state to let them enter Phase 2

Mayors cite heavy economic damage from prolonged shutdown.

New dashboard shows how far along King County is to meeting Phase II metrics

The county has met more than half its goals, but the ones it hasn’t met are critical in determining how many people are still being infected, and how quickly people are being tested.

Most Read