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.


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

Supporters march Wednesday afternoon across from Providence Medical Center in Everett on May 5, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Everett nurses threaten to strike as contract talks stall

Union leaders say Providence’s latest offer includes low wages and cuts to benefits and paid leave.

Mukilteo’s Diamond Knot Brewery & Alehouse before the state made them remove the six tables for outside dining because the sidewalk is on park property. (Diamond Knot)
State: No more drinking beer on the sidewalk at Diamond Knot

The Mukilteo alehouse had to remove six picnic tables that were on park property, which abuts the building.

Exterior of the new Quil Ceda Creek Casino on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2020 in Marysville, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Gambling Commission OKs pacts with tribes for sports betting

Agreements with the Tulalips, Stillaguamish and 13 other tribes await approval by the governor and the feds.

Snohomish roofing company fined $1.2M for safety violations

State inspectors noted a dozen “willful serious violations.” Allways Roofing says it will appeal.

You voted: The best pho in Snohomish County

Even during a pandemic, people still have their favorites

Bothell man sentenced for illegally trading Amazon stock

He got confidential information from his wife, who was an Amazon finance employee at the time.

A Boeing 737 Max taxis after landing during a test flight in Seattle on Sept. 30, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Chona Kasinger.
United Airlines in talks to buy at least 100 Boeing Max jets

To attract orders for the plane, Boeing has been offering some customers steep discounts.

Couple sitting in summer cafe outdoor scene. Restaurant outside with table under umbrella vector illustration. Young man and woman eating and drinking, waiter coming with drinks.
You voted: The best patio in Snohomish County

During the pandemic, outdoor seating has become quite popular.

Paul Dolan
Everett’s Aviation Technical Services welcomes a new CEO

The airplane repair company president will step into his role at a critical moment for the aerospace industry.

Boeing workers walk outside of Boeing's Everett assembly plant on Tuesday, April 21, 2020 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Boeing jet sales surge as pandemic retreats in U.S., Europe

Deliveries remain an issue due to problems in factories and increased scrutiny from U.S. regulators.

Two vector oysters in shells isolated on a white background
You voted: The best oysters in Snohomish County

Even during a pandemic, people still have their favorites.

FILE - This undated illustration provided by Blue Origin shows the capsule that the company aims to take tourists into space. Jeff Bezos' rocket company is already calling its future clients "astronauts." One seat is up for grabs on the New Shepard rocket's debut passenger flight scheduled for July 2021; an online auction is underway. (Blue Origin via AP)
Bezos plans to go to space aboard Blue Origin flight in July

He, his brother, and the winner of an auction, will be aboard the New Shepard spacecraft on July 20.