Big Snohomish store’s trucks keep neighbors awake at night

SNOHOMISH — The sounds of delivery trucks and slamming roll doors shake her house.

Shawn Gay, 43, leaves the television on while she sleeps.

One of her neighbors has opted for the couch on the far end of the house.

They live on a hill behind Fred Meyer at Snohomish Station. Late night and early morning deliveries have been an ongoing negotiation between the neighbors and management. City ordinances do not address noise from businesses.

Store management has made changes to accommodate its neighbors, but the city said amending the noise ordinance will affect more businesses than Fred Meyer.

Snohomish, a largely residential town, has growing pains.

For the first time, Snohomish has exceeded a population of 10,000. There is talk of apartment and condo developers looking to build. Bickford Avenue, where Snohomish Station is located, has expanded with new stores.

Businesses and homeowners are learning to coexist.

Accommodating city growth while preserving small-town charm is a concern for many.

Gay lives in her childhood home on 95th Drive SE, just outside of city limits. A seasonal creek used to run behind her house. A neighbor once was cited for cutting down a tree in that area.

In 2008, Fred Meyer was built and the green belt became a terraced hillside.

The new landscaping creates an amphitheatre effect, Gay said. Conversations between truck drivers at the loading dock travel to her window. The beeping from rigs backing up wakes her long before she has to get up for work.

As temperatures climbed into the 90s last week, she couldn’t open her windows.

Deliveries used to be made throughout the night. Gay urged 17 of her neighbors to sign a petition last year asking the city to set parameters for the noise.

The county line that divides the shopping center and homes is a complicating factor. City staff said enforcement can be tricky when noise originates inside the city, but those affected live in the county. The two jurisdictions have different regulations.

“I think we need to erase some lines here and say, ‘How do we work together to all be good neighbors?’” Snohomish Mayor Tom Hamilton said.

He has stepped into the discussion between neighbors and store management.

“Not all of the issues have been resolved, but at least there’s progress being made,” he said. “They’re talking.”

Fred Meyer now schedules the parking lot sweepers to run no later than 9 p.m. The store also set delivery hours between 5 a.m.and 11 p.m.

Staff members working the graveyard shift prep overnight to make certain shelves are stocked by opening time.

Neighbors have been provided a phone number for a store manager in case of noise troubles.

“Our focus is running a good store for the customers with the limited time available and making sure the neighbors on that hillside are taken care of,” said Zach Stratton, a Fred Meyer spokesman.

However, neighbors are pushing for a little more quiet time. Six hours is not enough rest, Gay said.

Last month, the city’s economic-development committee reviewed possible solutions. New regulations could be drawn to limit hours for noise near homes. However, an amendment would apply to all businesses in Snohomish that are near residential areas.

Committee members recommended no action be taken. They said an additional restriction might deter businesses from coming to Snohomish.

Neighbors living near Safeway and Haggen along Avenue D have reached out to Gay asking for help with similar problems.

Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; ctompkins@heraldnet.com.

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