Our Vision for Echo Lake Community
As our community is slowly developing, we see trees and vegetation being replaced by houses and developments. While development is inevitable, the impact on traffic, wildlife and the environment should be part of the planning process. The choices that exist are not simple. The county planning department typically makes development decisions based on input from the developer without input from this community. We see the long-term impact with increased traffic, decreased safety, and loss of rural living environment.
Each of us must weigh the options and decide how we are going to address housing needs, personally or collectively, regarding development and land use in Unincorporated Snohomish County.
Questions to ask ourselves:
Do we prefer building new homes, or is there a will to defend existing natural areas that support heritage trees and wetlands, as well as wildlife habitat for deer, bears, coyotes, and other animals?
What concerns do we have about traffic congestion, and what traffic mitigation efforts are needed to address traffic and emergency access issues?
Are you comfortable with reduced road safety. With more traffic and no road shoulders it becomes less safe to walk on our roads.
What are Echo Lake Community residents willing to do to give input to decisions that will affect the wildlife and human residents here? Could we write letters or express our views at meetings with decision-makers?
You are encouraged to review the following projects. Some projects are not in our community but provide insight into the issues nearby in unincorporated Snohomish County and how the same could happen here.
Lamar Development (Echo Lake)
Location: Near 210th St SE, Echo Lake
Size: 58 Acres
These parcels currently owned by Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue (SRF&R) near 210th St. SE include 58 acres with wetlands, heritage trees, and wildlife-filled habitat. A feasibility study for sale of these properties is being conducted for a possible buyer, Lamar Real Estate Group, LLC, a luxury housing developer operating out of Dubai. The map of the Rural Cluster Subdivision Conceptual Site Plan envisions creation of a 17-lot development in an area zoned Rural-5 (5 acres) by Snohomish County, which exceeds the required lot size for that zoning designation.
Four Lot Development (Echo Lake)
Location: 11733 221st St. SE, Echo Lake Community
Size: 23 Acres
This development is a 4-lot short subdivision. This property is currently under review by the Snohomish County Planning & Development Services (PDS) Department. It is wedged between Quinn’s Crossing and Paradise Valley Conservation Area in wildlife habitat near highly sensitive wetlands.
MA Center Development (Wellington Hills)
Location: 23110 75th Ave. SE (Bostain Road)
The King County Superior Court is expected to grant a requested three-month continuance of the appeal by Wellington Hill Neighbors due to the medical emergency of an attorney. Tina Stewart, reporting for the group, says they will continue to prepare for their appeal to be heard after the new year in their opposition to Snohomish County’s approved development of a complex, known as the MA Center, AMMA.org near Maltby on Bostian Road.
SNOHOMISH COUNTY COUNCIL DENIED APPEAL REGARDING RULES VIOLATIONS
By Tina Stewart, Wellington Hills Neighbors (WHN)
A vote by the Snohomish County Council following the conclusion of the hearing on May 31 denied the appeal of the Wellington Hills Neighbors (WHN) and upheld the processes used by the SnoCo Planning and Development Services (PDS) Department. This Council decision provides approval for development of the MA Center, AMMA.org., 23110 75th Ave. SE, on Bostian Road. Wellington Hills Neighbors alleged there had been an inadequate study of the impact of additional traffic and that the department had failed to appropriately notify and provide access to documents to the community when the proposal expanded from a small worship facility to a large complex five times the original size. Council action approves the development of the proposed center despite the objections of neighbors, who formed a non-profit organization and hired an attorney to address problems with the PDS permitting processes. WHN feels they have a strong legal basis for their objections to the application for a commercial development.
The group is considering an appeal to Superior Court. By doing this, WHN can present its case before a judge who doesn’t share a facility with the SnoCo Council, staff, or attorneys. The lesson for rural neighbors (like Echo Lake Community) is that residents not only need to heed posted development notices and contact SnoCo Planning and Development Services (PDS), but also need to submit Public Records Act requests on projects of interest. These requests allow early access to behind-the-scenes discussions before official announcements, giving residents the chance to affect the permitting processes and protect rural areas in the future. Residents are encouraged to work with other unincorporated areas in Snohomish County to share information and prevent overdevelopment. Without the protection that a city offers, rural areas are easy targets for developments that impact several communities at once.
Moray Village3 (Maltby)
Location: Maltby Rd and Yew Way
Cathcart Crossing (Cathcart)
Location: Cathcart Way & SR9
Size: 286 Townhome Units
Cathcart Crossing Development Appeal Dismissed by SnoCo County Council
Supporters of the non-profit Conservation and Preservation Society (see Aug. 2022 Newsletter issue, p. 7) came together to protect against extreme urbanization of rural Snohomish County in our area by appealing the SnoCo Hearing Examiner’s Amended Decision for the 31-acre project known as Cathcart Crossing (21-1207654 SPA/BSP; see July 2022 issue, p. 4). This development is inextricably linked to the publicly owned adjacent park-and-ride lot. Their appeal alleged a lack of transparency by County staff, who approved the high-density development of 286 townhomes, a fast-food joint, and a mini-storage facility. This left unfulfilled the concept in the Snohomish County Comprehensive Plan for an “urban village” like Mill Creek. The appeal alleged several County process violations, including lack of transparency about the sale of public land, improper notification of neighbors, and the inadequacy of traffic and drainage studies. On October 11, the Council voted
5-0 to dismiss the appeal, affirming the hearing examiner’s decision, allowing the development to proceed.
Snohomish County Planning and Development Services (PDS) recently recommended approval for development of a large commercial and residential complex at SR 9 and Cathcart Way, which does not address low-income housing needs. This complex would include 286 townhome units and two commercial buildings. Two additional, related building development requests there are still under consideration.
Nearby residents filed several issues of concern, including the increased traffic and destruction of wetlands that would be created by this development. PDS determined that, despite concerns raised, the proposal “will meet relevant regulations.” Neighbors’ concerns about increased traffic gridlock on the local state highways were deemed to be outside the responsibility of the county and are, instead, the responsibility of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). For that reason, increasing state highway traffic gridlock was not considered when this recommendation for approval was made by the county.
Checkout the article in the Hearld, County Council dismisses appeal over Cathcart Crossing.
Pacific Ridge Development (Cathcart)
Location: SR9 & Cathcart Way
Size: 144 Acres
Permitting documents indicate Pacific Ridge-DR Horton, a subsidiary of national homebuilder D. R. Horton, proposes 12-phase project on 144 acres of county-owned land near SR 9, including “1,263 new housing units ... a mix of apartments, townhouses, single family residences and 165,600 square feet of commercial space.” This development is awaiting site plan approval.
Check out the article in the Tribune about Project at corner of SR 9 – Cathcart Way got OK too quietly, appeal accuses.