City prevails in lawsuit with local developer

Published on Thu, Jan 1, 2009 by Jack Kintner

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City prevails in lawsuit with local developer

By Jack Kintner

The city of Blaine has won its first round in a Federal District Court battle with Blaine developer Joel Douglas over his Seascape Condominium project at 1300 Peace Portal Drive, but Douglas is not giving up.

In a ruling handed down on December 5, United States Federal District Court Judge Richard Jones granted summary judgment to Blaine on 10 of 12 claims in Douglas’ suit, remanding the remaining two complaints back to Whatcom County Superior Court.

According to court documents, the two issues that Jones sent back for further argument in the lower court are “takings” claims against Blaine that Douglas says are wrong under the Fifth Amendment. The first is based on the city’s taking nine feet of right-of-way from the parcel Douglas purchased in 2003 from Don Richmond, and the second is based on water damage to the property that was caused by the installation of a dam in a city sewer trench.

The court dismissed Douglas’ claim that the city was negligent in revising his building permit after first giving him approval. Judge Jones said he dismissed that charge because “a building permit does not assure the applicant that the city will make no further revisions...

Though Harbor Lands’ permit allowed it to begin construction, it did not guarantee that no other submissions would be required or that all amendments would be approved. Furthermore, correspondence between Douglas and the city [of Blaine] regarding site plan requirements demonstrates that both parties understood that the city continued to conduct site plan and compliance review even after the building permit was issued.”

Other claims that Jones dismissed had to do with due process, water damage due to flooding and interference with Douglas’ business, building and selling condominium units on the site. A trial date for the last two claims has not been set by the Whatcom County Superior Court. Douglas said that this is only the first round.

Mayor Bonnie Onyon said that the city staff “has had to commit significant hours and taxpayer monies in preparation for the defense of the city in these actions. She added that she anticipated that Sitkin will be bringing a motion to dismiss the last two remaining claims soon.