By Brian Kelly
ARLINGTON — The city properly did its homework when it evaluated the environmental impacts of a controversial auto storage yard proposal, the Arlington Planning Commission has ruled.
After three non-consecutive nights of meetings, the planning commission unanimously rejected an appeal that challenged the adequacy of the city’s environmental review.
Don Fitzpatrick Jr. and Airpark Industries have proposed building a 40-acre storage yard for totaled vehicles near 51st Avenue NE, on former farmland south of the airport. The property is zoned for industrial uses, but some residents say the storage yard will pollute salmon streams and an aquifer that provides drinking water to Marysville and Arlington residents.
Despite the controversy over the proposal — which has prompted protests by pickets and indefinite postponement of the public hearing on the project’s permit because of claims that the yard site is the location of a 19th-century Indian village — the hearing was concluded Thursday evening. And city staff did a good job in addressing the contentious issues, Fitzpatrick said.
"There wasn’t any shouting or flag waving; it was a pretty straightforward deal," Fitzpatrick said
Mike Beardsley Sr., who lives south of the storage yard property, filed the appeal on the environmental review in May.
He said the city had not properly considered potential impacts from the storage facility on wetlands, aesthetics, animal habitat, air quality and several other issues. More analysis on environmental issues was needed, Beardsley said.
Beardsley was unavailable for comment Friday.
The proposal is far from its approval, however. The planning commission must review the proposal itself, before offering a recommendation to the city council.
The hearing on the development permit has not been rescheduled. Fitzpatrick said the company is still trying to resolve issues with the Stillaguamish Tribe, which has claimed that the storage yard property is the site of an old Indian village.
"We’re working with the Stillaguamish Indians to try and make sure that their concerns are satisfied," Fitzpatrick said, adding that the tribe hasn’t yet submitted any evidence of its claims in writing.
A meeting with the tribe is planned next week.
You can call Herald Writer Brian Kelly at 425-339-3422 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.