PICNIC POINT — An environmental group abruptly dropped its court battle to overturn permits for the controversial Frognal Estates housing development, but said it won’t give up its scrutiny.
The Sno-King Watershed Council entered a voluntary dismissal Monday in King County Superior Court. The move came a week after a judge denied the group’s request to halt logging until a February hearing. The petition focused on managing drainage on the steep, wooded terrain south of Mukilteo.
“Given that they were entitled to proceed, all of this would have been academic,” said Jeffrey Eustis, an attorney representing the Watershed Council.
Developer Integral Northwest secured permits from Snohomish County in August to log and grade the 22-acre site. Two months earlier, the Everett-based developer and the county had won a case in state appellate court against neighbors who sought to limit the proposal for 112 homes.
In early December, crews arrived to cut down trees and build an access road. By late last week, large patches of the site had been cleared. Until then, residents of the Regatta Estates subdivision off Picnic Point Road had enjoyed a forested greenbelt on the hillside above. The logging also radically altered the wooded area along 60th Avenue West, behind Picnic Point Elementary.
“With the loss of the trees, there is nothing left for us to appeal,” Bill Lider, a civil engineer who serves on the Watershed Council board, wrote in an email. “We cannot glue the trees back on their stumps.”
The group has concerns about other aspects of the project that have yet to be approved by the county, Lider said.
The developer behind Frognal, named after a part of London, intends to create a neighborhood similar to Regatta Estates, which he also built in the 1990s.
The approval process has been ongoing since 2005, contending with complicated drainage and erosion issues. The land lies within Mukilteo’s future annexation area and is the last major piece to be developed.