News

North Shore fight is personal

This home in the Northshore Country Club Estates overlooks the North Shore Golf Course. - Jacinda Howard/The Mirror
This home in the Northshore Country Club Estates overlooks the North Shore Golf Course.
— image credit: Jacinda Howard/The Mirror

By JACINDA HOWARD, The Mirror

SaveNETacoma, a coalition of Northeast Tacoma and Federal Way residents, will stop at nothing to protect the serene North Shore Golf Course in Northeast Tacoma from a massive residential housing development planned to replace the fairways.

The group demonstrated its opposition to the development most recently by filing a motion Feb. 13 in Pierce County Superior Court to intervene as a party plaintiff in the City of Tacoma’s lawsuit against the proposed developer, Northshore Investors LLC, and the course’s current owner, North Shore Golf Associates Inc.

“We want to be sure that we are included in every aspect of this lawsuit,” SaveNETacoma president John Lovelace said. “We will appeal at every turn if it doesn’t go our way.”

On Feb. 22, a ruling on whether SaveNETacoma will be allowed to intervene and join in the lawsuit will be made.

Call to action:

Like the City of Tacoma, SaveNETacoma is concerned about many of the same issues relating to the proposed development. But several coalition members reside on or near the golf course and will be affected personally by the court’s ruling and the future of the North Shore Golf Course.

“Property owners in and around (the golf course) are third-party beneficiaries,” Lovelace said. “We live here and we will be stuck with whatever is left.”

More than four housing developments border the North Shore Golf Course. In at least one of them, residents paid premium prices for their homes because they overlooked the greenery, Lovelace said. Homeowners, including Lovelace, were given the impression upon purchasing their residences that North Shore Golf Course would remain intact in perpetuity, he said.

“We’re not a bunch of rich homeowners living on a golf course. We’re all working stiffs,” he said.

Northshore Boulevard runs through the Northshore County Club Estates neighborhood. The homes along this roadway are adjacent to the North Shore Golf Course.

Several residents have eye-level views of the golf course. The homes are not majestic monuments of extravagant stone. BMWs and Cadillac Escalades are not parked in these driveways. Instead, the houses resemble any other middle-class American neighborhood.

Nearly every yard is adorned with a small white sign that shows a red circle with a house pictured in the middle, and a diagonal line cutting the circle and house in half — urging against the development on the golf course. Some homes have “for sale” signs out front.

“It’s not just home values that will be affected,” Lovelace said.

If the development is allowed, many homeowners fear the 860-unit residential housing development will bring increased traffic, crowded schools and higher crime rates in Northeast Tacoma and Federal Way. Lovelace imagines many of his neighbors will move, taking a loss on their investment, he said.

Federal Way’s role:

Federal Way, which is in open discussions with Tacoma and the developer, is also concerned with some of these same predictions. Federal Way is interested in how the Tacoma project will affect open space, stormwater drainage and traffic in Federal Way, Assistant City Manager and Public Works director Cary Roe said. The city sent a letter to Tacoma detailing these concerns on March 23.

Federal Way completed an in-depth analysis of how the proposed development will affect traffic, Roe said. Needed mitigations were forward to Tacoma.

Among improvements Northshore Investors LLC is expected to assist in funding, if its application is approved through Tacoma, is the widening of Southwest 340th Street from Hoyt Road Southwest to the Twin Lakes Village. The construction has been part of the city’s Transportation Improvement Plan for years, but The Point at North Shore makes the road widening even more urgent and necessary, Roe said.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

----

Turbulent lead-up to the lawsuit:

Northshore Investors LLC submitted its application on Jan. 29, 2007, for The Point at Northshore, which would replace the North Shore Golf Course. Tacoma found the application incomplete due to the developer’s failure to address how it planned to abide by the city’s open space requirements. A wetlands analysis was also found incomplete.

A six-month moratorium on planned residential developments (PRDs), such as The Point at Northshore, was passed by the Tacoma City Council. Meanwhile, Northshore Investors’ application to build on the golf course forced Tacoma to re-consider its municipal code as it applied to planned residential districts. The moratorium expired in July.

Tacoma’s pro-tem hearing examiner then announced the city had made a mistake and the developer’s application was actually complete upon filing. This ruling exempted the application from the updated municipal codes.

The city was required to once again review the developer’s application, which relies heavily on 1981 zoning documents. The city still believes the applicant did not meet requirements, specifically those related to open space and environmental mitigations, needed to build the massive housing development where the golf course now exists. Northshore Investors LLC maintains it has met the city’s requirements to build and ought to be allowed to do so.

Tacoma is now challenging, in Pierce County Superior Court, the hearing examiner’s decision in finding the application for The Point at Northshore complete. SaveNETacoma will learn if it is allowed to join suit on Feb. 22.

----

Check it out:

To learn more about The Pointe at North Shore development application and Tacoma press releases about this issue, visit www.cityoftacoma.org. To learn more about SaveNETacoma and read more about what the coalition has done to fight the 860-home residential development, visit http://savenetacoma.org/.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Sep 12 edition online now. Browse the archives.