County, VMICC sued over K2 rezone

Island activist Tom Bangasser has filed a far-reaching lawsuit against King County, charging that government officials failed to comply with several codes when they rezoned the K2 property from industrial to commercial last fall.

He also named several others as parties to the suit, including the Vashon-Maury Island Community Council, K2 Corp. and the King County Library System.

As a result, the community council’s board last Monday night voted to spend $1,000 on legal fees, the council’s deductible under its insurance policy, the necessary first step before turning the case over to its attorneys and beginning the process of defending itself, said Jean Bosch, who heads the council’s board.

“It’s somewhat exasperating to be the target of what seems to be a frivolous lawsuit,” Bosch said. “We only have so much precious life energy.”

Nonetheless, she said, Bill Tobin, a lawyer who serves on the community council’s board, told Bosch and other members of the board that they needed to take the case seriously.

“He advised us that we have no choice,” Bosch said.

Bangasser, a businessman who manages Courthouse Square and the Sheffield Building, which are owned by Vashon College, an entity he helped to found, said he brought the case forward in an effort to highlight what he believes were improprieties in the property’s rezone.

The county council’s decision to rezone the 17-acre property, he said, flies in the face of Vashon’s 1996 town plan, which he said should have been the governing policy in the decision-making process, as well as the Growth Management Act.

He added the community council to the mix, he said, because he believes the volunteer body is charged with maintaining “the big picture of what’s going on on the Island, to connect all the little parts ... and maintain a vigilance over the town plan.”

The council, he added, “has been pretty lax in keeping an eye on what’s going on.”

Bangasser does not have a lawyer representing him in the case. In a four-page complaint filed in King County Superior Court last month, he said the county deprived him of his due process when it approved the zoning change “without adequate public notice.”

The county’s prosecuting office declined comment, noting that the case had yet to be assigned to a lawyer. Sally Brick, a lawyer for the King County Library System, also declined to comment.

The county council’s decision to rezone the structure has stirred considerable controversy on Vashon, in part because several leading players said they hadn’t heard that it was pending.

“This is a significant piece of property,” Bangasser said, adding that he objects to the “private, back-door” way it was rezoned.

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