Lake Stevens issues permits for controversial condo project

LAKE STEVENS — The city says work can continue on a decade-old development plan that has raised concerns among neighbors.

An agreement allowing for 288 homes to be built near Highway 92 and Callow Road was set to expire Tuesday. It took effect in 2007, and had been extended five years, from 2012 to 2017.

Under the terms of the agreement, construction needed to be under way with a permit issued by April 25. If not, the agreement would end, putting a stop to the project in its current form. New plans and studies would have been needed, subject to today’s regulations rather than those from 10 years ago.

The city issued permits Tuesday, the day the agreement was to expire, for wall construction, a stormwater vault and a model home. The developer applied for the permits less than a week earlier. It received an expedited review, Community Development Director Russ Wright said. It normally takes about two weeks. Some permits already have been granted and other documents, including revised construction plans, are being reviewed.

The plan is to build detached condominiums on about 40 acres of a 70-acre property. Neighbors have urged the city to halt the project. They’re worried about already crowded roads and schools, along with effects on wetlands and wildlife. They question the wisdom of relying on 10-year-old environmental regulations. Under state law, development agreements remain subject to the rules in effect at the time they were signed.

Wright on Tuesday issued a decision on whether conditions of the agreement have been met. It was requested by attorneys representing the property owner, KR-N9 LLC and Gray1 Washington.

The code interpretation says the agreement has not expired, work can continue under permits issued to date, and approvals may be granted for additional permits.

The city is requiring the project to pay today’s mitigation fees for schools, parks and streets, according to the decision. Fees can total tens of thousands of dollars, and are roughly double what they were 10 years ago, Wright said. The city also is requiring updated geotechnical and critical areas reports to see if there have been changes to the landscape that need to be addressed.

Lake Stevens and the development owners have entered into dispute resolution. The city hopes to modify plans to address concerns about density, traffic, schools and the environment, Wright said. He declined to give specifics.

“Our mayor and staff and city council have heard the concerns, and that’s why we’re in this resolution process,” he said.

The project could be completed within the next three years.

The recent decision can be appealed until 4 p.m. May 10 by anyone who has submitted written comments on the issue. They should deliver a concise and specific statement and request for relief to Lake Stevens City Hall, 1812 Main St. They must show that they are affected by the decision.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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