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Published: Monday, March 7, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

Monroe businessman plans to turn pile of dirt into farmers market

A Monroe businessman and farmer is preparing 25 acres for a farmers market and nursery complex.

MONROE -- Anybody driving into Monroe lately has probably noticed huge piles of dirt pushed up along the side of U.S. 2.
How big? Big enough to cover about 25 acres when finished.
Work has been underway for about a year and a half at the former Diamond M Farm west of town.
It's where local businessman-farmer Dave Remlinger plans to open a farmers market and nursery. To build it, Remlinger's filling in 2 percent of his land there. As work progresses, he intends to concentrate buildings on top of the fill, near the roadway, for a high-visibility retail operation.
"As this area grows in population, you end up farming people as much as crops," Remlinger said. "All the nursery structures, etc. need to be put against the road."
The fill will put the buildings above the 100-year flood level.
The project on agricultural land in the floodplain has raised a few eyebrows. It even prompted a discussion at a recent meeting of the Agricultural Advisory Board.
A complaint to Snohomish County code officers last year led county officials to confirm that the necessary grading, shoreline and flood-hazard permits were in order.
"It's a lot of dirt," county permitting manager Tom Rowe said.
The permit allows 600,000 cubic yards of fill, Rowe said. Estimating 10 to 12 cubic yards per dump truck, that's at least 50,000 loads.
Getting permits took two and a half years and cost more than $150,000, including engineering work, Remlinger said.
The grading along U.S. 2 is separate from work at Skykomish Habitat, Remlinger's habitat bank near the Monroe Correctional Complex.
He's also co-owner of Wetlands Creation Inc., a company that did more than $100,000 worth of work at a flood-control district where Remlinger serves as a commissioner. The work violated state laws barring flood-district commissioners from having a financial interest in contracts. Remlinger said he was unaware of the rules and was only trying to save the district money.
Remlinger's farmers market is one of several planned for the area.
A local developer is planning to build a year-round indoor farmers market on Everett's Grand Avenue. A nonprofit that Snohomish County helped launch plans to operate it. The 60,000 square-foot agriculture center could open for business as early as next year.
Remlinger said he's aiming for a much different concept, by drawing people from Monroe, Woodinville and King County's Eastside to a rural area.
"It's a much different setting and much different type of operation than being in downtown Everett," Remlinger said.
His project sits near Highway 522, the Evergreen State Fairgrounds and a large soccer complex on Fryelands Boulevard. The soccer complex occupies land that Remlinger sold to Snohomish County in 2005.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465,

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