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Originally published Thursday, October 16, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Magnolia group sues Seattle to halt housing for homeless

A Magnolia neighborhood group is suing the city of Seattle to stop a plan to build housing for homeless people at Fort Lawton near Discovery Park.

Seattle Times staff reporter

A Magnolia neighborhood group is suing the city of Seattle to stop a plan to build housing for homeless people at Fort Lawton near Discovery Park.

The Magnolia Neighborhood Planning Council claims the city did not conduct a review required by the state Environmental Policy Act and that the city violated the Discovery Park Master Plan.

"My clients are concerned that the city was kind of rushing to judgment on this, that they were not giving the proper consideration particularly to the environmental issues," said Richard Aramburu, attorney for the planning council.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in King County Superior Court.

Last month, the City Council approved a redevelopment plan proposed by Mayor Greg Nickels for the 29-acre federally owned site. The plan called for converting some of the land into park space and building up to 216 housing units, including market-rate homes and apartments for homeless people. Aramburu said the city needs to take a harder look at turning the entire site into park land.

"I think it's a typical NIMBY lawsuit that has no merit," said City Attorney Tom Carr. [NIMBY stands for "not in my backyard.] "It's sort of sad that people don't trust their elected officials and cooperate to do good in a city. This was an extensive process well within the law and we will spend city dollars to deal with the lawsuit."

The plan still requires approval by the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Housing and Urban Development, which asked for homeless housing to be included in the plan for redevelopment.

City officials had expected most of the federal land would be conveyed to the city for free, except for the areas that would be set aside to build market-rate housing.

Sharon Pian Chan: 206-464-2958 or schan@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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