PAWS plans a large new shelter for pets and wildlife

Some neighbors in the Clearview area south of Snohomish worry about traffic and stormwater runoff.

CLEARVIEW — The Progressive Animal Welfare Society, better known as PAWS, is planning a large, new headquarters along Highway 9 south of Snohomish to replace its existing digs in Lynnwood.

The planned pet shelter and wildlife rehabilitation building would stand two stories, with about 44,000 square feet of space. The building would include a spay-neuter clinic and a wildlife hospital. Outside, the nonprofit envisions a series of enclosures where wild animals can recuperate.

“Like a baby bird who has outgrown her nest, our ability to meet the growing need for our services is challenged by a facility with an aging infrastructure,” said Annette Laico, PAWS’ CEO, in a prepared statement. “The new campus will be a refuge for animals in need of care, a destination for people who love animals, and a gathering place where the public and professionals can come to learn about and pursue solutions for animal issues.”

The nonprofit recently began the permitting process, with hopes of breaking ground later this year.

Some neighbors are watching closely, to make sure Snohomish County addresses concerns such as traffic, water runoff and construction noise.

The new buildings would sit on the west side of busy Highway 9, between Cathcart Way and E. Lowell Larimer Road.

That’s about 8 miles east of the current headquarters in Lynnwood, at 15305 44th Ave W., the organization’s home since its founding in 1967. Its Cat City adoption center in Seattle’s University District will continue.

The future buildings would take shape on 25 acres. Improvements would include expanded veterinary facilities, better-designed wildlife areas and more dog-walking trails for families to meet and interact with pets for adoption.

PAWS bought the land in 2014, in three separate parcels. Most surrounding properties are residential. To the west, the land bumps up against the former Cathcart landfill site.

PAWS turned in applications for grading and logging permits Dec. 31.

County planners are now performing environmental studies. Those can take months. Further reviews are needed before they decide whether to require a full environmental impact statement.

“We accept comments throughout the course of the project,” permitting supervisor Ryan Countryman said.

Commercial kennels are allowed under the property’s R-5 zoning. No rezone or public hearing is required.

Robin Cooley and her husband have lived on neighboring land since 1990. They have concerns about added traffic on Highway 9 and stormwater runoff on their steep hill. They hope the county will address noise during construction and animal waste once that’s finished.

“I’m a big animal lover,” Cooley said. “I’m not opposed to what they’re doing.”

The facility would include 92 parking stalls. It would generate an estimated 390 car trips per day along the already well-traveled stretch of highway. PAWS estimates 60 staff and employees would work there. The other traffic would come for adoption visits, classes and other activities.

“For such a large facility, there are several concerns,” Cooley said. “It can be a good facility if it’s managed well.”

An existing house on the southernmost parcel would be removed, under plans submitted to the county. A house and garage standing on another parcel closer to Highway 9 would remain.

PAWS adopts out thousands of animals every year. It recently accepted cats and dogs flown to the Pacific Northwest from overcrowded shelters in other states.

As part of its mission, PAWS also treats wild animals hurt through any number of circumstances: habitat destruction, dog or cat attacks, car collisions, poisoning and gunshot wounds. Rescued wildlife include orphaned seal pups, bear cubs, injured owls, songbirds and waterfowl.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@herald Twitter: @NWhaglund.

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