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Originally published March 2, 2010 at 5:27 PM | Page modified March 2, 2010 at 8:58 PM

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Seattle, Magnolia panel spar over Fort Lawton

The city of Seattle and the Magnolia Neighborhood Planning Council squared off Tuesday before the state Court of Appeals over a plan to redevelop the Fort Lawton base into a mixed-income subdivision with more than 200 housing units.

Seattle Times staff reporter

The city of Seattle and the Magnolia Neighborhood Planning Council squared off Tuesday before the state Court of Appeals over a plan to redevelop the Fort Lawton base into a mixed-income subdivision with more than 200 housing units.

One of the main issues is whether the city's plan should be subjected to a review under the state Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).

Fort Lawton was flagged for closure in 2005, and the Army named the city responsible for redeveloping the 29-acre site. In 2008, the city signed off on a plan to include 108 to 125 market-rate units, 85 units for the homeless and six Habitat for Humanity units.

That same year, the neighborhood council sued, arguing the city can't bypass SEPA. Last year, King County Superior Court Judge Catherine Shaffer agreed.

The city appealed. Roger Wynne, assistant city attorney, argued that SEPA isn't required because the plan will be approved at the federal level — and that means it will undergo an analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act.

There's no need to undergo two intensive reviews, he said.

"Both are rigorous, both explore environmental impacts," he said.

Gwendolyn Payton, attorney for the neighborhood council, said the city should have done the SEPA review after Shaffer's ruling, instead of fighting it in court.

"They decided to take what I believe is our taxpayer money and do this expensive appeal," she said. "By now, they could have done SEPA twice over."

It's unclear when the judges will rule, but a decision is expected within the year.

Sonia Krishnan: 206-515-5546 or skrishnan@seattletimes.com

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