Developer files suit over Sequim’s impact fees

SEQUIM — Developer Ed Sumpter has a $151,540 problem with the Sequim City Council.

Sumpter filed suit Monday in Clallam County Superior Court over the $151,540 in mitigation, or impact, fees the City Council imposed on his proposed Priest Road Center, claiming in an interview Tuesday that the council has an “adversarial relationship” with the business community.

The fees would help cover street- and stormwater-related improvements that the City Council says are needed for Sumpter’s proposed shopping center on Sequim’s west side.

The City Council held a closed-door executive session at the end of its regular Monday meeting, then voted to have City Attorney Craig Ritchie fight what’s called a land use petition before adjourning.

Sumpter, who said Tuesday he does not yet have an attorney, claimed in the interview that the council unfairly applied the impact fees earlier this fall.

“We were willing to pay impact fees, sure, whatever is fair,” Sumpter said, adding he had agreed to install curbs, gutters, streetlights and sidewalks, but that the actual fees imposed by the council are “dreamt up numbers.”

‘Adversarial’

“The real problem is the adversarial relationship that the City Council seems to have with people trying to do business, people who live and work here,” said Sumpter, a developer with Y3K LLC, and also owner of Blue Sky Realty.

“Members of the community are getting rejected if they happen to be in real estate or are a developer. You are persona non grata.”

Mayor Laura Dubois, who was absent from the Monday’s City Council meeting because of illness, said in a telephone interview Tuesday that the City Council is just doing its job.

“We are asking people to submit to our rules and regulations, and making sure that they do,” she said.

“We are trying to make sure that Sequim has codes that are good for business. We made sure that staff followed the rules and regulations and the mitigation.”

The 70,775-square-foot Priest Road Center would include a 45,000-square-foot retail complex; a two-story, 15,000-square-foot office-retail building; and two retail-restaurant spaces with a combined total of 10,775 square feet.

The Sequim Planning Commission recommended approval of the project application on Oct. 6.

The approval did not include three conditions being challenged by Sumpter, he said in the lawsuit.

The City Council added those conditions on Nov. 9, not allowing Sumpter to respond to additional information provided by the city that became the basis for the new conditions, the lawsuit said.

“The city closed the hearing but changed a bunch of things after it closed,” Sumpter said.

“We were not allowed to respond to the City Council, and I felt like we should have,” he added. “Their treatment was hostile.”

Application incomplete

But City Attorney Craig Ritchie said Tuesday that Sumpter’s original application, filed June 23, 2008, was incomplete.

The regulations Sumpter is challenging were in effect in September 2008.

Sumpter filed his completed application on Dec. 29, 2008.

Sumpter wants Superior Court to reverse the following three conditions that the City Council imposed on the project:

• Compliance with city of Sequim design standards.

• Payment by Sumpter of “proportionate” shares for impact mitigation totaling $46,287 for a traffic light at U.S. Highway 101 and River Road; $10,800 for West Washington Street-Brackett Road, intersection improvements, $21,972 for Washington Street-Sequim Avenue intersection improvements, $48,000 for improvements to River Road-Grant Road “deficiencies” and $24,481 for a traffic signal at the Hendrickson Road-North Fifth Avenue intersection.

• Establishment of a stormwater maintenance and operation program that would allow city inspection of the system and require corrective action if necessary.

Sumpter also wants the court to grant “other relief as the court deems just and equitable.”

The project, built around the new Schuck’s Auto Parts store that Sumpter built, would be constructed by his development company, Y3K LLC, with his wife, Kathryn, and his business partner, Rick Gardner of Gresham.

Sumpter said he does not have any tenants for Priest River Center and does not have an estimated cost of construction.

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Staff writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-417-3536 or at [email protected]

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