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Contested car dealership at Island Crossing closer to reality

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By Gale Fiege
Herald Writer
ARLINGTON -- Tom Lane hopes to break ground later this year on a new Dwayne Lane's Chevrolet dealership along I-5, just south of Highway 530 at Island Crossing.
After decades of wrangling, trips to court, lots of meetings and an economic recession, Lane's proposed dealership seems closer to reality, said Lane, the company president. The project includes a 35,000-square-foot, two-story building located on 4.5 paved acres of former farmland off of Smokey Point Boulevard.
"It's been an emotional piece of property for many years," Lane said.
Groups such as the Pilchuck Audubon Society, the Stillaguamish Flood Control District and a land protection nonprofit called Futurewise continue to oppose development at Island Crossing.
Among their concerns is that when the Stillaguamish River floods, the proposed car dealership's paved area could increase the risk of water running over I-5. Flood control district commissioners believe that the development of the property exposes the city of Arlington to an increased risk of flood damage liability claims.
Currently, the city is considering whether it will issue a special-use permit for the dealership, though community development director Paul Ellis expects that the matter will go before a hearing examiner.
"The (car dealership) has been a long time coming," Ellis said. "We've heard mostly positive comments about the dealership, but it's not over yet."
People have until Friday to submit comments about the permit application for proposed development. Along with comments, people who want a public hearing on the matter are asked to submit a request in writing.
Comments submitted in April under the state Environmental Policy Act have been sent to Lane's legal team for the company to address, Ellis said.
Urban development in flood plains has been prohibited because it risks lives and property during floods, and it sends the flood damage downstream, said Stillaguamish Flood Control District commissioners in their environmental policy comments to the city.
"Some of the objections to the project are based on the county's 2003 flood study," Ellis said. "A newer, more technically accurate model for a 100-year-flood was completed last year. It shows that during a big flood the river would not be as deep as was reported in the older study."
With more process ahead, Ellis called Lane's plan to begin construction on the dealership this year "ambitious."
Lane said he remains optimistic. The number of employees at the proposed dealership eventually will reach 40, he said.
"People have asked why we want to move from our current location on Highway 9 in Arlington to be out by the freeway," Lane said. "A significant portion of our customer base is from Camano Island and Stanwood, and it would be more convenient for them. We're staying in Arlington because our dealership will continue benefit the city."
Island Crossing was annexed into the city in November 2008 after the state Supreme Court ruled that inclusion of the area in the city's urban growth area was valid. Attorneys for the county filed a lawsuit a month later, demanding the city repeal the annexation of the Island Crossing. Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Ellen Fair ruled in favor of the city, paving the way for the Lanes to move forward with plans to build a car dealership there. The company delayed submission of permit applications for the Island Crossing dealership until the economy improved and more information was available.
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427;
Have your say
To comment about the proposed Dwayne Lane car dealership's special use permit application, and to request a public hearing on the matter, write to Arlington associate planner Troy Davis at Or submit written comments or public hearing requests in person at City Hall, 238 N. Olympic Ave. Deadline is 5 p.m. June 7.
Correction: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect email address for Arlington associate planner Troy Davis. The address is now correct. Additionally, the deadline for comments and requests for a hearing has been extended to June 7.

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