The Washington State Supreme Court has reinstated a lawsuit brought against the city of Puyallup over development of a warehouse on the former Van Lierop property.
The details of the lawsuit, which involves the zoning of a 21-acre piece of land set for development, should be reviewed in the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
"I wouldn't say it’s a loss. I'd say the court has given us guidance of what venue this should be heard in," Puyallup assistant city manager Steve Kirkelie said.
The case stems from a controversial plan to develop a 470,000-square-foot warehouse on the former Van Lierop farm property, located northeast of the intersection of Shaw Road and Pioneer Way East. The property is now owned by Viking LLC, but developer Schnitzer West LLC claims to have a continuing interest in the property.
Schnitzer applied to construct the warehouse in 2013 before an ordinance was put forth by four council members to extend the city’s Shaw-East Pioneer Overlay Zone to encompass the site.
With the ordinance came developmental restrictions, including a 125,000-square-foot building size limit and “requirements dictating landscaping, open space usage and pedestrian infrastructure,” according to court documents.
Schnitzer filed suit in Pierce County Superior Court, contending the ordinance was “an unlawful site-specific rezone.”
The city asked that the case be dismissed on the grounds that the ordinance was not a site-specific rezone and argued the dispute should be handled with a Growth Management Hearing Board.
The trial court ruled in favor of Schnitzer in 2015.
The city appealed to the state Court of Appeals, where the trial court's decision was reversed and the lawsuit dismissed. Schnitzer appealed the dismissal in 2016, and Supreme Court granted the request.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court declared the ordinance a site-specific rezone in that it targets a specific tract of land, among other things, and said the dispute should proceed through the court system.
Zachary Lell, attorney for the city, called the Supreme Court ruling a jurisdictional decision.
“The issue that the Supreme Court dealt with wasn’t the merits of the case,” he said.
Efforts to reach attorneys of Schnitzer were unsuccessful.
While construction of a warehouse on the site is a done deal, Schnitzer seeks to continue the case to have the overlay restrictions overturned.
Puyallup mayor John Palmer said the overlay "represents the city’s vision of development for the overall area."