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Cities alarmed at proposed 2,800-acre housing project

LAKEWOOD A proposal before the Snohomish County Council that would allow as many as 1,200 new homes to be built in a rural area north of Lake Goodwin has several cities and school districts alarmed.
But the Edmonds developer that owns 2,000 acres north of Lake Goodwin said the 1,218 lots it wants to develop will actually preserve more open space.
The county is in the very early stages of considering potential changes to zoning for a 2,797-acre swath of land stretching from Lake Martha north and east to less than half-a-mile from Hatt Slough and the Stillaguamish River near Silvana.
Because the zoning changes could dramatically influence where and how these new homes are built, the cities of Marysville, Arlington and Stanwood are fighting the move by Lake Goodwin Investment Properties majority owner in the affected properties.
The huge influx of homes to the area would be a problem in and of itself, city leaders said, but the builder would be allowed density bonuses that could double the number of homes allowed. Those homes would be built in clusters, so the damage or effects would be concentrated in certain areas.
This is crazy, said Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall. Im not pleased with it because of the traffic.
That tract of land is situated halfway between the Lakewood area of Marysville and Stanwood. Stanwood Mayor Diane Warinski-White echoed Kendalls comments.
Weve weighed in against it, Warinski-White said, noting the proposed development is the size of a small city and not appropriate for the rural setting. She said there is already enough existing capacity in the countys Urban Growth Areas for several cities. Snohomish County is farming, timber and people, and we need to have balance.
Arlington assistant city administrator Kristin Banfield said her city would be writing a letter to the Council to urge the plan to be scotched.
Thats still an awful lot of homes in a rural area, Banfield said, especially for an area already dealing with growth issues.
The developer said the cities concerns were unwarranted and premature, at the least. Brian Holtzclaw is general counsel for the McNoughton Group, which owns the Lake Goodwin Investment Properties LLC, which owns 2,000 acres of the area proposed for the potential zoning change. He said that originally his company had 5,243 acres up for re-designation but scaled that back to just under 2,800. The original plan would have followed existing roads for boundaries.
The claims by Marysville and Stanwood officials are greatly exaggerated, according to Holtzclaw. Under the current land use density, the 2,797-acre plot could hold 822 rural cluster lots and with the requested re-designation 396 additional lots would be allowed, for a total of 1,218 lots. Marysville officials said they expected as many as 2,000 homes or lots.
With the numbers anyone can make a big deal about it, Holtzclaw said, adding that clustering the lots might allow more density, it will also preserve more open space in the area.
Administrators at the Lakewood School District were not aware of the proposal, and said even the smallest possible development of 1,000 new homes would swamp their facilities if those lots were in the district attendance boundaries. Larry Francois is superintendent of the 2,600-student district which straddles Arlington and Marysville and stretches west to envelope Lake Goodwin and Lake Ki. The northern portion of the districts director four area reaches into the planned re-designation, and even if most of the homes were built closer to Stanwood both cities and school districts would be effected by traffic going to and fro. In general, when 1,000 new homes are built they tend to generate 500 to 600 new students for local schools. Most of the land is in the Stanwood School District.
That would be a significant impact because depending on the grade level of those students, we wouldnt be able to handle it, Francois said.
I can say that in general for any school district, having a thousand new homes built, depending on the timeline, it could really put a crimp in your facilities.
According to Gloria Hirashima, Marysville Community Development director, the county is being asked to change the lands current rural 5-acre designation to the more flexible rural basic use. Both allow one home per five acre plot, but with the basic designation developers are allowed more intensive clustering and receive increased density bonuses, from 35 percent to 100 percent.
Essentially they can double their density, Hirashima told the Marysville City Council at their May 14 meeting. A lot of that traffic is going to come down 172nd Street.
Currently the area around Happy Valley Road to the eastern side of his project and a portion near Warm Beach at the west already have the zoning or density his company is asking for, Holtzclaw pointed out. He stressed that the re-designation is in the very early stages and even if approved nothing will be happening for several years to come. Roads, utilities, and other concerns will be tackled if the county allows the zoning change.
Its really hard to say, were looking at that right now, Holtzclaw said.
Theres a lot of different things were looking at.
In any scenario, much of the rural land will be left intact, he added, although he said it was far too early for the developer to know where in the 2,797-acre tract the cluster or clusters would be built.
Were at least two or three years off before we have something approved, Holtzclaw said.

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