City of Arlington, Gleneagle developers sued for stormwater runoff

ARLINGTON — Property owners near the Gleneagle housing development believe their property was jeopardized by the city of Arlington, the developers of Gleneagle, the Gleneagle Country Club Association and close to 30 other parties who have been named as defendants in a suit filed Jan. 5 in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Business partners Joe Holden and Lee McDaniel own an industrial use-zoned parcel at 18520 67th Ave. NE, downhill of Gleneagle, which experienced stormwater runoff from snow in December of 2008 and flooding in January of 2009. The property is leased to a company whose steel manufacturing process uses hazardous materials which must remain on site, and the partners' lawsuit claims that such flooding prevents their property from being leased for this purpose.

Holden and McDaniel are calling for changes to the current stormwater system, either to reduce the stormwater flow or to divert the runoff into a pond with the capacity to catch it, and are being represented by Seattle attorney David Bricklin, who stated that the stormwater system established by the city and the developers had failed.

The city is responsible for maintaining the storm drain facilities near the property, and the suit accuses the city's engineers of designing and constructing these stormwater facilities inadequately to the task of accommodating the amount of stormwater that's flooded the property.

"The city affirmatively chose to take on this issue, but they did so in a careless way," Bricklin said. "Not only did the city approve the developers' plans authorizing a greater discharge on the private property, but they also undertook city drainage systems offsite which were negligently underprepared. They've exposed themselves to some serious liability here."

No other complaints were filed by Holden and McDaniel after they filed a claim notice with the city in the wake of the flooding in January of 2009. Arlington Assistant City Administrator Kristin Banfield acknowledged that the city had been aware of the potential for a lawsuit, and added that the city is working both on responding to the lawsuit and on improving its stormwater system.

"The city plans to put forth a vigorous defense against the claims," Banfield said.

Both Banfield and Bricklin anticipate that the number of defendants named by the suit could slow its progress.

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