Editor's Note: A hearing to reconsider the case will be held on Friday, June 21.

King County Superior Court Judge John Ruhl has accepted a motion by Save Madison Valley to dismiss its own land-use petition challenging redevelopment plans for the City People’s Garden Store site on East Madison Street.

Save Madison Valley has spent the past several years fighting the development as proposed, arguing its height, bulk and scale will have negative impacts on the neighborhood.

The Seattle Hearing Examiner’s Office in February partially sided with the Department of Construction and Inspections director’s decision to allow Velmeir Properties to construct the six-story mixed-use development, which will have a PCC Market as its ground-floor anchor tenant.

“The East Madison Street Proposal will completely and utterly change the character and aesthetics of the neighborhood,” according to SMV’s land-use petition, which was filed on April 10. “It is an understatement to say that the aesthetic, height/bulk/scale, traffic and other impacts will be significant and adverse to the neighborhood.”

The neighborhood group ended up filing a motion to dismiss its petition on May 23, arguing the superior court can only provide review of final land-use decisions, which the group believes is still pending, and plans to refile its appeal when two issues remanded back to the city and developer by the Seattle Hearing Examiner are resolved.

One issue  Deputy Hearing Examiner Barbara Ehrlichman sided with SMV on in her Feb. 26 findings and decision was that SDCI’s determination of non-significance was erroneous in its threshold determination related to drainage, and an updated drainage study was needed to assess stormwater detention.

The deputy hearing examiner also denied a motion for reconsideration by SDCI regarding mitigating shade on the Mad P-Patch adjacent to the property.

“While Save Madison Valley does not believe that there was a final land use decision that could be challenged under LUPA [Land Use Petition Act], Save Madison Valley filed its petition to preserve its right to appeal the Examiner’s conclusions on those other issues under LUPA,” the motion to dismiss states. “… The Petitioners’ LUPA petition must be dismissed because there is no final land use decision for the Petitioners to challenge.”

Attorneys for Velmeir Properties, representing its Velmeir Madison Company, LLC, opposed the motion to dismiss, arguing a final land-use decision had been made, and that Save Madison Valley “should not be allowed to withdraw and recast its appeal at some future date.”

Velmeir notes SMV did not question the hearing examiner’s decision as incomplete in its appeal, and is barred from doing so now. It also cites Ehrlichman’s decision, under the “Concerning Further Review” subhead: “The decision of the Hearing Examiner in this case is the final decision for the City of Seattle.”

Ruhl’s order of dismissal of Save Madison Valley’s land-use petition states a petitioner can dismiss their own claims for any reason, and so the court did not consider the group’s argument “that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction…”

The petition was dismissed without prejudice, but the judge treated Save Madison Valley’s motion as a voluntary dismissal, so now the group is requesting a motion to reconsider.

“We did not request this,” writes SMV member Melissa Stoker in an email to MPT. “We do not want a voluntary dismissal because it opens the possibility of our not being able to appeal all of the issues of the case after the remands are completed.”

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