The City of Puyallup is embroiled in two Shaw Road warehouse lawsuits over stormwater connection fees and building permits.
Both cases are pending in Pierce County Superior Court.
Developer Viking JV LLC owns a 450,000-square-foot warehouse on the former Van Lierop daffodil bulb farm. The company has sued the city twice in two years, arguing against charges of $388,725 in park impact fees and the $977,282 to hook into the city’s stormwater system.
The litigation has cost the city $175,000 in outside council, City Attorney Joe Beck told The Herald.
Developers pay impact fees, construction fees and permit fees for the right to build on properties within the city.
Puyallup’s stormwater and surface runoff are collected into the city’s pipe system. Once a property is built, the developer pays to connect into that system.
“It’s not arbitrary,” Beck said. “It’s standard for everybody.”
Viking’s attorney Bill Lynn said the company is fighting for fair and reasonable charges.
Viking’s 22-acre property is along the Puyallup River at the base of the city’s stormwater system.
Viking intended to build a storm system for the warehouse and to add a new outflow pipe connecting the city system to the Puyallup River, Lynn said, but Puyallup is requiring Viking to include additional, oversized pipes for water coming from other properties.
The city’s requirements would double the cost of work to more the $5 million, Lynn said.
“The long and the short of it is that Viking is not benefiting from the city system — it is adding improvements to the system for use by others, including the city itself,” Lynn said.
Park impact fees
The city also charges developers an impact fee to help pay for open space and parks.
“The Viking warehouse has to pay their fair share of calculated impact on parks, and traffic improvements,” Beck said.
Viking argues the calculation used was inaccurate because, among other things, the fee assumed that an employee at the warehouse would have the same availability as a resident to visit the parks during work.
A hearing examiner has ruled in both disputes, siding with the city in the park impact fees case and awarding Viking the city of Puyallup’s settlement offer of reducing the stormwater fee by 61 percent. Viking has appealed both decisions to Superior Court.
Puyallup has cross-appealed the stormwater case because Beck wants to make it clear the settlement offer is no longer available.
“We, the city staff, attempted to work out and give them something, to avoid one more piece of litigation with Viking,” Beck said. “But now they’ve appealed, there’s not rationale for them to receive even a credit.”
Viking’s parent company, Michaelson, also owns the Knutson Farm property next door, where a seven-warehouse project has been stalled. The Court of Appeals awarded Puyallup the rights to an environmental impact study before the project moves ahead.
Viking’s attorney Lynn said the lawsuits are not related to the Knutson Farm project.
Both the lawsuits follow a rezoning suit the city lost last year. The farmland, then owned by Schnitzer West LLC, had been rezoned after plans to construct a warehouse were submitted. The rezoning ordinance created building restrictions, and the Washington Supreme Court ruled the ordinance target the property.