Motion to dismiss filed in bed and breakfast case

TACOMA — Clallam County is asking a judge to dismiss a federal lawsuit filed by a California woman who wants to build a 32,000-square-foot and 27-bathroom bed and breakfast on Sequim Bay Road.

The county filed its motion for summary judgment Monday ahead of a Nov. 15 hearing set for U.S. District Court in Tacoma after settlement negotiations fizzled.

“The Superior Court’s determination that the county’s decision was appropriate cannot be collaterally attacked or re-litigated in this court,” the motion said.

The county has asked the court to dismiss the case with prejudice and that the county be awarded all costs, including reasonable attorneys’ fees.

In the lawsuit filed in December 2017, Judy Lee of California alleges that the Clallam County Department of Community Development director, Mary Ellen Winborn, has worked to thwart her plans to build her dream home — a 32,000-square-foot, four-story structure she calls a bed and breakfast that features five bedrooms and 27 bathrooms — along the banks of Sequim Bay.

She purchased five acres at 695 E. Sequim Bay Road in 2016 to “make her home into an attractive bed and breakfast to allow others to enjoy the area,” according to the lawsuit.

Winborn determined that the building, which would be larger than the Quality Inn & Suites in Sequim and the Clallam County Public Utility District headquarters in Carlsborg, was actually a hotel and could not be built in that area.

Clallam County selected Clair Co. to review the application in October 2018 after the county and Lee agreed to have a third party review the application. Winborn has protested this move and said she will not participate in that process.

When Lee filed her third revised application with Clair Co., the company rejected the proposal because the application was not complete. Lee was asked to respond to 49 comments before the application could be considered.

Lee, according to a deposition filed Monday, was not surprised when Clair Co. informed her that the plans were incomplete and not suitable for review.

The county has extended the Oregon company’s contract to Dec. 11, 2019, but Lee said she has not taken steps to make the corrections required, including a number of corrections required for Building/Fire/Life Safety Review.

Lee said she “was not able to identify any” similar structures anywhere in Clallam County.

While other bed and breakfasts in the county charge between $350 and $450 per night, Lee said she would charge between $1,200 and $2,000 per night per room. She estimated it would have a 65 percent occupancy rate.

She said if there were any similar facilities in Clallam County, she would not have chosen Clallam County.

Among the claims Lee has made in her lawsuit is that Winborn and the county prevented her from expressing her First Amendment free speech rights, but when she was asked how she was prevented from her expressing herself, Lee said, “I can’t remember anything.”

When Lee filed her application with Clair Co., the scope of the project changed.

Documents said the building is now 25,000-square-feet instead of 32,000-square-feet. Site plans also show the driveway has been altered.

Clair Co. said the proposed building is about 2.5 feet taller than the 35-foot height limit, that rooms are not labeled correctly and that there are many other issues with the application that need to be addressed before a permit is issued.

The county and Lee met for mediation June 24, but could not agree on a resolution to the lawsuit.

“Mediation was unsuccessful,” said Chief Civil Prosecuting Attorney David Alvarez. He said Lee was willing to settle for “a large amount of money,” but he declined to provide specifics.

Earlier this month Lee and the county asked the judge to delay the trial again to “allow the underlying permitting decisions, activities, and actions that caused this lawsuit to become more established and certain.”

A jury trial is now set for June 8.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

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