Land petition lawsuit dismissed; citizen on hook for legal costs

Land petition lawsuit dismissed; citizen on hook for legal costs

Judge rules land use petition of Salish Expansion is “not well-grounded in fact.”

A King County Superior Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought against the city of Snoqualmie regarding the Salish Lodge and Spa expansion, and the plaintiff must now pay the city $10,873 in legal fees.

On Nov. 19, 2018, Jane Storrs filed a Land Use Petition against the city of Snoqualmie’s approval of the Salish Expansion project. In response, city attorney Bob Sterbank sent Storrs a letter requesting the withdrawal of the petition, which she declined.

The case went to the King County Superior Court where Judge David Keenan dismissed Storrs’ case in the first motion hearing on Jan. 18, 2019. In the second hearing, held on Feb. 27, Keenan ordered Storrs to pay $10,873 to the city of Snoqualmie in legal services rendered in the defense process.

“Based on legal advice, we saw a chance and took it because of the potential benefit to this community,” Storrs said of the petition.

In her original Land Use Petition, Storrs cites a claim made in November of 2018 that the project size was misrepresented to the city and citizens, and the actual project size was double the number presented to citizens. The claim had been refuted by the city and could not be verified through multiple investigations by the Record. Storrs also cited concerns of impacts to city infrastructure and services and potential impact to the fish hatchery at Tokul Creek.

In a statement to the Record, Storrs said she hoped to force a better review of the project as a way to avoid potential environmental risks.

“I filed a land use appeal because I want to ensure that the Salish Expansion is really sustainable for the city of Snoqualmie,” she wrote. “I want to protect our Valley and our stunning natural resources and wildlife. I want the public to be as safe as possible on our roads. And I want the city to be more vigilant and transparent in its decision making around this project and the impacts on us all.”

In the Judge’s order, Keenan states Storrs’ suit was “not well-grounded in fact or warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for reversal.” He also said the city was entitled compensation for the fees and costs associated with Sterbank and attorneys from Kenyon Disend in defense of the city.

The judge also ruled that the total cost of legal services, as calculated by the city’s finance department, was reasonable and the number of hours spent in securing the outcome of the litigation was also reasonable.

The city initially requested $24,211 in fees not only for the city attorney’s costs but for additional legal services from outside the city. The judge decided only to charge the hourly rate of pay plus benefits of the city attorney, dropping the total down to $10,873.

According to city manager Bob Larson, the city will wait to see if the legal services are paid, and if not, the decision on how to proceed will be discussed by the city council during an executive session at its March 11 meeting.

While disappointed in the court’s decision, Storrs is exploring what legal rights she may have to respond. She was given 10 days from Feb. 27, to pay the ordered amount.

On Tuesday, March 5, Storrs said she will pay the legal fee, and added that attempts to intimidate her through legal penalty would not work.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@valleyrecord.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.valleyrecord.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

A 212-unit development is slated for the Dahlgren property, more commonly known as the “mule pasture,” along North Bend Way. File photo
UTRC recommends approval of North Bend’s water plan

Plan includes a contested plot of land known as the Dahlgren property.

A coho salmon. The 14th annual Salmon SEEson program provides information on virtual and self-guided viewing locations around King County. Flickr/Bureau of Land Management
News Around the Valley: Grants, COVID-19, business assistance, salmon sightings

Grants available for community organizations, chambers Chambers of Commerce and community-based organizations… Continue reading

Aaron Kunkler/staff photoAlvin Sweet is a resident of Martin Court in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. Martin Court is a former motel which was transformed into a supportive housing complex two decades ago. New funding from King County’s Health through Housing ordinance could expand this type of program across the county.
King County wants to buy motels for emergency, affordable housing

The concept has proven results in addressing homelessness.

Courtesy photo
State demanded more drop boxes, and now it must pay for them

A King County judge says a law requiring more ballot boxes was an illegal unfunded mandate.

The 5th Legislative District includes Snoqualmie, North Bend, Issaquah, Renton and Maple Valley. Courtesy image
5th District candidates talk policing, the economy and mental health

The SnoValley Chamber of Commerce held a candidates forum on Oct. 22.

North Bend could have its own marijuana store soon.
North Bend pot shop gets public hearing on Nov. 17

A proposal from a private developer seeking to build a marijuana store… Continue reading

King County 2020 unemployment numbers. Source: Washington State Employment Security Department
Boeing, coronavirus likely to impact King County economy

Unemployment remained high in September.

File photoA 212-unit development is slated for the Dahlgren property, more commonly known as the “mule pasture.”
North Bend’s water war heats up as construction is set to begin

Who gets to supply water to a 212-unit housing complex is at the heart of the skirmish.

In this November 2019 photo, Lucy Adams, Tim Takechi, Craig Ewing and Renee Lystad rehearse for VCS's production of "A Christmas Carol." File photo
Valley Center Stage eyes holiday production, new location

The community theater is hoping to put on a virtual Christmas production this year.

Most Read