Appeals court rules against Trillium developer

Staff writerSeptember 26, 2013 

A sign advises of Trillium's proposed 500-unit subdivision in this May 26, 2011 file photo. (STEVE BLOOM/staff photographer)

STEVE BLOOM — The Olympian Buy Photo

The state Court of Appeals has denied an appeal from the developer of Trillium, a proposed 500-unit master planned development in southeast Olympia that the Olympia City Council turned down in 2011.

In an opinion released Tuesday, the three-judge panel dismissed the appeal from developer DR Horton and sided with the city of Olympia. A Thurston County judge previously sided with Olympia in a ruling last year.

DR Horton argued that the City Council erred in denying the plan over issues of transit access, school placement and the city’s “pedestrian and bicycle connectivity requirements.”

The Olympia Safe Streets Campaign, an intervening party, asked the appeals court to affirm that Trillium did not satisfy connectivity requirements. The court affirmed the city’s decision, and awarded attorney’s fees to the city and the Olympia Safe Streets Campaign.

It’s the latest development in a process that dates back more than seven years at the proposed 79-acre site at 3555 Morse-Merryman Road SE. DR Horton, the business name for Delaware corporation SSHI LLC, proposed 300 single-family and 200 multi-family units, a 1.3-acre commercial area with a 1-acre village green, as well as stormwater areas, open space and new streets. A total of 24.59 acres of open space was proposed. But neighbors argued that Trillium does not comply with the city’s comprehensive plan, would not be served by a bus route and would overload area schools, requiring children to be bused to other schools.

DR Horton continued to fight the City Council’s action, but developed a Plan B if that didn’t work: a more traditional, less-dense subdivision development. The City Council approved that plan in November 2012, to allow four to eight residential units per acre.

The developer submitted the application for rezoning under protest, meaning that it prefers the master plan zoning but will pursue the lower-density residential zoning if it doesn’t prevail in its appeal.

Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869


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