Proposed apartment complex in Maltby raises neighbors’ ire

MALTBY — As an uproar continues over a proposed apartment complex that many neighbors fear would clash with this mostly rural area, Snohomish County planners have tried to provide a clearer picture of the looming permit process.

A county webpage launched this week details the next steps to obtain approval. The Paradise Lake Road Garden Apartments would include 360 new units on a rural arterial, just east of Highway 522. Locals say area traffic is unbearable as is. Congested roads were a top concern in the more than 200 comment letters county planners were on pace to receive during an official comment period, which ended last week.

“There was an outpouring of public interest and we want to minimize confusion,” county spokesman Kent Patton said. “We want to make sure people know that there will be lots of opportunities to engage over the life of the process.”

The Wolff Co. applied for land-use permits Nov. 18. The project would include 16 buildings and 720 parking stalls. The Scottsdale, Arizona-based firm has developed several multifamily buildings in Seattle. A local representative has said the Maltby project would include one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments that would rent at market rates.

County land-use planners are preparing to review aspects of the project such as engineering, site layout and landscaping. County and state traffic engineers are preparing to take a close look at the potential impacts on nearby roads.

After planning reviews, the proposal would go to the hearing examiner for a decision. All sides would have a chance to testify.

The site includes nearly 17 acres zoned as Planned Community Business, where apartments are one of many allowed uses. The zoning sets a maximum density of just under 22 apartment units per acre.

The area, like most surrounding land, had been zoned for five-acre lots until it was changed in 2005 as part of the county’s comprehensive plan update.

Many neighbors until recently were unaware of that shift — and they aren’t happy. At least 150 packed a Dec. 14 meeting the developer hosted at the Brightwater Center to introduce the project. About 60 flocked with concerns to a Tuesday-night meeting of the county planning commission, which focuses on land-use policies rather than specific projects.

Paradise Lake Road and Highway 522 have been long-standing trouble spots. The state Department of Transportation has studied building a new interchange serving both Paradise Lake Road and Maltby Road. That project would cost more than $50 million. Only a small portion of the money has been earmarked for the project, and it won’t start to become available until 2025.

Another road priority is widening the two-lane sections of Highway 522 from Paradise Lake Road up to the bridge over the Snohomish River. That would cost an estimated $76 million and remains unfunded.

The county’s project page for the Paradise Lake Road Garden Apartments is available at www.snohomishcountywa.gov/3802. It’s one of four major development proposals with its own page. Others are the passenger air terminal at Paine Field, the Point Wells high-rise project next to Woodway and the Frognal Estates subdivision near Mukilteo.

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

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