A portion of the site of the proposed Lake Stevens Costco (bottom) at the intersection of Highway 9 (right) and South Lake Stevens Road (below, out of view). (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)

A portion of the site of the proposed Lake Stevens Costco (bottom) at the intersection of Highway 9 (right) and South Lake Stevens Road (below, out of view). (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)

Purchase Photo

Legal battle stalls Costco’s planned store in Lake Stevens

“We intend to keep them in court until they get tired of us and go away,” an opponent of the project said.

LAKE STEVENS — Costco is still on track to build a warehouse store along Highway 9, but a legal battle has stalled the project for months.

So far the wholesale giant has all its city permits and is waiting on federal permission to fill wetlands on the site, according to the city. The Issaquah-based company intends to develop 37 acres at the southwest corner of Highway 9 and 20th Street SE.

It would include a 160,000-square-foot warehouse store, a 30-pump gas station and more than 800 parking spots, according to plans filed with the city. Two new roads are also proposed on the south and west sides of the plot: one connected to 20th Street SE and the other to Highway 9 by a roundabout.

“I’m dreading the roundabout,” resident Doug Turner said.

Turner lives about half a mile from the proposed site. He ran a store there for 30 years called Turner’s Grocery. He closed the shop and retired at the end of 2019.

Turner is part of a group called Livable Lake Stevens. They oppose the development and have filed lawsuits against Costco and the city.

“It’s not about Costco, it’s about the location,” Turner said. “It’s a very poor location. It’s bordered by a two-lane Highway 9, a two-lane 20th Street, and it’s too close to our rural neighborhood. We are still unincorporated here.”

He would like to preserve the trees, wetlands and other nature on the property. He is also worried about more traffic on nearby roads.

In April, the neighborhood group appealed the city’s decision to approve Costco’s permits. About seven months later the city hearing examiner denied the appeal, court records show.

Livable Lake Stevens filed the Land Use Petition Act lawsuit in December. A Snohomish County Superior Court judge dismissed the case in late January.

“We intend to keep them in court until they get tired of us and go away,” Turner said.

Costco’s concept site plan. (City of Lake Stevens)

Costco’s concept site plan. (City of Lake Stevens)

It’s not clear yet when construction could start. Costco does not comment on new stores within a few months of development, the company has said.

Turner considers hundreds of people to be part of Livable Lake Stevens, based on petition signatures and Facebook followers.

Attorney Karl G. Anuta represents the group and has challenged Costco and other big-box corporations before. He’s licensed to work in Washington and Oregon, and his office in Portland.

Anuta is not sure yet about the next steps. He is waiting to see if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will allow Costco to fill the wetlands, and how the state Department of Transportation proceeds with road work related to the project.

Anuta believes the city moved forward with the project too quickly without considering how residents felt.

“In the view of Livable Lake Stevens, the city tried to steamroll a project through,” he said. “They could have taken more time and gotten more public feedback and potentially modified aspects of the project, then there may not have been such a bitter outcry at the end of the process.”

This area, called the 20th Street corridor, has been zoned for commercial use since 2012. If Costco doesn’t move in, another retailer could, Lake Stevens planning and community development director Russ Wright said.

“Other developers have been waiting and watching to see how this goes, this project,” he said. “There are some other developers waiting to do some commercial-type development along the 20th Street corridor.”

So far, he said, there has only been general interest.

Stephanie Davey: 425-339-3192; sdavey@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @stephrdavey.

Timeline

March 2018: Then-Mayor John Spencer says Costco may have plans to build in Lake Stevens.

April 2019: Costco applies for its first city permits.

July 2019: More than 100 people gathers to hear from city officials and Costco representatives who shared early plans.

October 2019: Costco applies for more city permits.

November 2019: Costco talks come to a head when hundreds crowd into the Lake Stevens City Council chambers. Testimony stretches into the night. The council decides to continue the hearing later.

December 2019: A big crowd gathers again in front of the city council. After hours of public comment, the council unanimously votes to approve Costco’s development agreement, serving as a contract between Costco and the city. The company still needs several city permits.

March 2020: Costco asks the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fill wetlands on the proposed site.

April 2020: Lake Stevens approves three of the company’s permits. A couple of weeks later, Livable Lake Stevens appeals those approvals, according to court documents.

November 2020: The city hearing examiner denies Livable Lake Stevens’ appeals.

December 2020: Livable Lake Stevens files a Land Use Petition Act lawsuit.

January 2021: A Snohomish County Superior Court judge dismisses the Land Use Petition Act case. Costco has its city permits and waits on a decision from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fill wetlands on the site before it can build.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Exterior of the new Quil Ceda Creek Casino on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2020 in Marysville, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Tulalip Tribes reach deal with state on sports betting

If all goes to plan, the tribes could get federal approval for sports books at two casinos by the fall.

Demolition of the YMCA in downtown continues on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Apartments will rise from the site of the former YMCA annex

In all, 260 units are planned for the downtown Everett site. The older brick building will remain.

Rescuers carry a part of aircraft recovered from Java Sea where a Sriwijaya Air passenger jet crashed, at Tanjung Priok Port in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. The search for the black boxes of a crashed Sriwijaya Air jet intensified Monday to boost the investigation into what caused the plane carrying dozens of people to nosedive at high velocity into the Java Sea. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
Lawsuit over 737 crash alleges autothrottle malfunction

A preliminary report indicates that pilots had repeatedly reported the problem days earlier.

FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2020 file photo, traffic passes the Boeing airplane production plant, in Everett, Wash.  U.S. manufacturers expanded in March 2021 at the fastest pace in 37 years, a sign of strengthening demand as the pandemic wanes and government emergency aid flows through the economy.  (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, file)
Boeing sees uptick in airplane orders as travel picks up

The company in April delivered 19 Maxes, three 737s for military use and seven larger widebody planes.

Signs from the Department of Ecology warning about contamination in the creek that runs through Powder Mill Gulch on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
State order targets Boeing Everett plant’s polluted history

Records show a dispute over cleanup requirements for chemically tainted water. The company denies there’s a disagreement.

FILE- In this Sept. 30, 2020, file photo, a Boeing 737 Max jet, piloted by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Steve Dickson, prepares to land at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle. Boeing says it has informed 16 of its customers that they should address a possible electrical issue in certain 737 Max aircraft before using them further. Boeing said Friday, April 9, 2021, that the recommendation was made “to allow for verification that a sufficient ground path exists for a component of the electrical power system.” (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Boeing: possible electrical issue in some 737 Max aircraft

The company said that the new problem was unrelated to the flight-control system.

The 214-foot tall cranes work to unload their first cargo shipments at South Terminal at the Port of Everett on Thursday, April 8, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Renovated Port of Everett terminal gets first cargo customer

The 655-foot Westwood Columbia is the first ship to call at the newly upgraded South Terminal dock.

Project Roxy is a proposed 2.8 million square foot distribution center that would be built on a 75-acre parcel at the Cascade Industrial Center. The rendering depicts the proposed project at 4620 172nd Street in Arlington from a northwest perspective.
1,000 jobs: Amazon to open distribution center in Arlington

The company is the tenant behind Project Roxy, a $355 million building at the Cascade Industrial Center.

Edmonds grocery store workers may soon earn hazard pay

Some employers are required to increase wages by $4 an hour, the city council voted Tuesday.

Aerospace supplier with Everett site files for bankruptcy

Wichita-based TECT Aerospace filed for Chapter 11 and plans to sell an Everett manufacturing facility.

Washington's Lottery ticket display. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)
Want to get lucky? Washington’s Lottery lists Top 10 stores

One of the luckiest retailers in the state was a Safeway in Everett, as measured by $1,000-plus winners.

What local firms are doing to promote diversity and equity

Here’s how some of Snohomish County’s biggest companies and organizations say they are making a difference.