Last week, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources withdrew the Ridgetop Land Exchange proposal as both parties have elected to not continue with the proposed transaction.
DNR issued a notice Nov. 14 stating a determination of non-significance for the proposal under the State Environmental Policy Act had been withdrawn. The exchange will not be presented to the Board of Natural Resources and there is no DNR administrative SEPA appeal.
“There’s still some community outreach the department wants to accomplish,” Rich Scrivner said, Planning Manager for the Commercial Real Estate Group of DNR. “We want to make sure they answer all the concerns and questions regarding the status of this trust parcel and DNR’s statutory requirement to manage these.”
The proposed trade between DNR and Evergreen Housing Development Group would have seen a 27-acre parcel of Common School Trust land (located between Ridgetop Boulevard and State Highway 303) traded for a 1.5-acre parcel of commercial property (Bartell Drug store) in Snohomish County.
DNR initially stated that the exchange would have provided long-term revenue for public school construction by exchanging a residential property that earns no income for a commercial property that would generate immediate revenue through an existing commercial lease.
The state trust property is within the urban growth area boundary of Silverdale with a portion of the Clear Creek Trail crossing the property through an easement held by Kitsap County. The Evergreen Housing Development Group intended to build a market-rate multifamily project on the site, retaining the Clear Creek Trail.
Following a public hearing in September, the public comment period was extended to October. In October, DNR announced they were postponing the exchange presentation to its board once again from November to 2020, before most recently deciding to withdraw the proposal.
“It certainly caught people by surprise because I think they’ve been accustomed to that being their backyard,” Scrivner said. “It has been an urban residential property since the early ‘80s, so it carries a significant market value. Given that we can’t harvest the timber, largely because of all the residential development around it, we had an opportunity to reposition out of that asset.”
Scrivner said although the land exchange is currently withdrawn, the property could either be put back out for sale, be involved with another land exchange proposal, or be sold to a public agency “within the year.”
“It’s important that we maintain our relationships with communities and local jurisdictions throughout the state,” he said. “We also realize that there is interest in this property, and it’s destined for sale or another exchange proposal.”
“We’re also open for a sale to a public agency like Kitsap County,” Scrivner went on to say. “We’ve had those discussions recently with all the community interest. It’s not necessarily slated for a public auction or an exchange.”