Adopt-A-Stream  wants changes for 139-unit apartment complex

 By Janice Podsada
Herald Writer - The Herald of Everett

MILL CREEK, WA - 2/4/02  - An environmental organization is challenging the city's decision to allow construction of a 139-unit apartment complex on a 4-acre site near a salmon-bearing stream.

Current development plans for Rivendale II, located in the 13400 block of Dumas Road, would adversely affect nearby Sitka Creek, said Tom Murdoch, director of Adopt-A-Stream, a nonprofit agency dedicated to the preservation of Snohomish County streams.

Murdoch filed his appeal with the Mill Creek Planning Commission this month. It will be heard on Feb. 28, said Mill Creek planner Cari Hornbein.

Hornbein said that because a hearing is planned, city officials could not comment on the project or the appeal.

"We really don't have a comment" either, said Dan Eeernissee, one of the partners of project developer Wakefield Homes of Bellevue.

Murdoch said Sitka Creek, is a pristine stream that provides spawning and rearing grounds for trout, coho salmon and the threatened chinook salmon.

The developer's environmental checklist, completed this summer, lists songbirds as the only observable wildlife on or near the site. No fish or mammals are listed.

The creek could be protected if Wakefield modifies its construction plans, Murdoch alleges.

"I'm not against development," said Murdoch, who's asked developers to build up, not out, and construct 10 buildings instead of 14, and add underground parking.

Developments can adversely affect a stream's health, when too much of the forest floor is paved, Murdoch said.

The earth acts like a combination sponge and holding tank, soaking up rainfall and runoff, and then releasing it slowly into the stream.

When the forest floor has been paved, storm water rushes over the hard surfaces and flows all at once into the creek, overloading the streambed and overwhelming the fish and wildlife.

In addition, storm water that flows over pavement picks up pollutants, including oil and fertilizers, and deposits them in the stream, Murdoch said.

He said city officials need to take a broader look

"Rivendale II by itself will not be the nail in the creek's coffin, but other planned developments and the planned widening of Dumas road will take a heavy toll on Sitka Creek," Murdoch said.

The Mill Creek Planning Commission is expected to decide the fate of the project and the appeal Feb. 28 at 7 p.m.

(Tom Murdoch director of the Adopt-a-Stream Foundation, and Everett Turner check out the Sitka Creek drainage. Turner is credited with discovering the small creek that's a tributary to North Creek.)

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