Neighbors sue to stop college housing plan

A homeowners' group filed a lawsuit yesterday to try to halt a student housing project at Green River Community College, saying more studies should be done on the development's effect on the neighborhood.

The Rainier Ridge Association, representing a residential development near the Auburn college, named the school and its foundation as defendants.

"My clients always expected this to be a community college. Building a residential development is certainly a departure from what they are used to," said Ted Hunter, the association's attorney.

The project site is next to the Rainier Ridge development and north of the college.

School officials said yesterday they had not seen the suit, though spokesman John Ramsey said it was not unexpected.

The association cited several concerns, including an increase in traffic, a need for more public services and harmful effects on landslide and erosion areas.

Plaintiffs said that school officials should have undertaken a detailed study of the project's environmental impacts, but instead used a much less rigorous study that concluded that there would be no negative environmental impact from the project.

"We want them to look at how residential housing is going to impact the environment," Hunter said. "You're going to have students driving back and forth going out for food or a drink and that means people going in and out."

The association also stated that the college, which describes the project as "apartment units," should label it as dormitories or organizational housing because the description does not meet county zoning standards of an apartment.

Under King County zoning laws, apartments can be built without additional permits, but dormitories are issued conditional use permits and generally require hearings.

"My clients don't have a problem with the development," Hunter said. "They would just like the college to take a closer look at the impact this is going to have."

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