Snohomish County, WA: Growth plans irk many at hearing

By Brian Kelly
The Daily Herald Writer


Snohomish County, WA - People north of Stanwood don't want a new truck stop in their neighborhood next to I-5.

Others in Mill Creek aren't happy with a proposal to plop apartments and a commercial center at a busy intersection on Seattle Hill Road.

And folks in Gold Bar are fighting a plan by the Eddie Bauer family, of outdoor-clothing fame, to stretch the city's growth area to include their 78-acre property, and then change the rural zoning so more homes can be built on the land.

Residents from all three areas, and elsewhere in the county, packed a hearing room Wednesday to compliment or condemn suggested changes to the county's comprehensive plan, the land-use document that will guide growth decisions for the next two decades. More than 60 people attended the hearing, with the overflow crowd spilling out into the lobby of the council's meeting room.

The proposed amendments include more than 10 "upzones," where more homes could be built on the properties, and zoning changes from residential to commercial uses.

Some of the smallest switches, however, were the most controversial.

Many Mill Creek area residents said their neighborhood would be devastated if zoning on six acres of land at the northwest corner of 132nd Street SE and Seattle Hill Road changed from low-density residential to zoning that would allow multifamily homes and a commercial center.

"Nobody wants an apartment house or complex in their back yard," said Adrian Woods. "It's going to impact our traffic, it's going to impact our kids.

"More people, more crime, more problems," he said.

County planners and the county's planning commission have told the council to approve the zoning change.

Other residents said the property's location next to a busy intersection would worsen congestion that's already so bad that locals avoid the area. Residents don't need more commercial businesses, others added, because there's already an Albertsons and a Fred Meyer nearby.

But Barbara Fjarlie, one of the property owners, said they haven't talked much about specific development plans.

"I'm kind of p.o.'d. We have not even entertained the idea of selling our property," she said, adding that the traffic is bad because of all the residents she's seen move in the last 40 years.

Residents north of Stanwood submitted petitions signed by more than 200 people. They protested the proposal to designate nine acres near I-5 at the 300th Street NW interchange to allow for commercial businesses that are geared to highway traffic.

But Dave Nelson urged the council to approve the change, and said a truck stop had been planned for the land, and the Stillaguamish Tribe was looking at the site as a possible alternative location for a casino.

The proposal to expand Gold Bar was equally unwelcome. Many said the move was premature.

"Gold Bar is not ready to take the extra burden," said Megan Kogut.

The city is also against the expansion.

After roughly four hours of testimony, the council put off a decision on the proposed changes until next week. The council will start deliberations on changes to the land-use plan at 2 p.m. Monday.

You can call Herald Writer Brian Kelly at 425-339-3422


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