PICNIC POINT — Frognal Estates is poised for another leap forward.
Snohomish County is preparing to issue a permit that would allow the 112-home subdivision to move toward construction, over the objections of neighbors and environmentalists.
With the approval, the developer could clear the 22-acre property near Picnic Point Road, beyond the logging that began last year. The grading permit also opens the way for the construction of roads, utilities and retaining walls. If completed, the project would include 112 houses.
Ryan Countryman, a county permitting supervisor, called the approval “the culmination of a long review process.”
“We’re still in that short period before the permits actually get issued,” Countryman said this week.
It’s unclear when construction would start.
Developer Integral Northwest, of Everett, won a series of court battles for the project, which must address drainage and slope stability on steep terrain south of Mukilteo.
The property sits just north of Picnic Point Elementary School. As part of the build-out, 60th Avenue West and 58th Place West would be extended into the new neighborhood.
The first permit application for Frognal was submitted in 2005 under the name Horseman’s Trail. The project stalled during the recession and was subject to a full environmental impact statement. Its current name comes from a London neighborhood.
The Sno-King Watershed Council has led the appeals against the project. Bill Lider, an engineer and board member with the Watershed Council, believes the county should require complete sewer-system designs before issuing the grading permit.
Countryman said that’s not how it works.
“This project will involve months of construction,” the permitting supervisor wrote in an email to Lider. “It will be some time before the work reaches a point affecting the proposed new sewer line. If the applicant has not finalized the engineering details with Alderwood Water and Wastewater District by then, the construction may need to pause or proceed differently. It is up to the applicant to risk such delays. Postponing commencement of construction would increase the likelihood of (work) continuing into the autumn wet season, which is exactly one of the things you have been asking us not to allow.”
Lider said construction could wait until 2020.
“By allowing the Frognal developer to proceed without having an (approval) for the sewer alignment risks having a half-completed project come the rainy season,” he wrote. “This in turn increases the risk to downslope properties and homes.”
John Lakhani, president and CEO of Integral Northwest, said his staff has worked with the county to review public comments, including those from the opposition. They made changes as a result.
“The project as designed meets or exceeds all applicable code requirements,” Lakhani wrote on Friday. “We invite the public to independently fact-check any allegations being made against this project by groups, such as Sno-King Watershed …”
John McClellan, the engineering and development director for Alderwood Water & Wastewater, said the sewer approval is for the most part unrelated to the county’s permit process.
“We’re spending more time reviewing where the sewer leaves the property and goes down a steep slope,” McClellan said. “We want to make sure that the sewer main is constructed in a way that it does not create problems for that steep slope.”