Proposed development by Lake Stevens North Cove Park put on hold

LAKE STEVENS — A developer has decided to delay a proposed apartment and retail project next to North Cove Park while the city drafts a new plan for downtown.

The decision came after people in Lake Stevens shared concerns on social media and at a tense City Council meeting Sept. 8.

City staff and leaders are starting work on a land use plan for the center of the city. The process includes workshops and public hearings before a final plan is adopted, likely next summer. Nothing is expected to be built on the property by the park until the plan is complete, according to the developer.

The Williams family of Williams Investments owns 1.3 acres along the lake next to North Cove Park. They’ve been looking to build a mixed-use residential and retail building there, said consultant Reid Shockey of Shockey Planning Group. Designers sketched plans for a six-story building with about 100 apartments, bottom-floor retail space and a restaurant. The plans include a road extension and new dock.

Neighbors are worried the building wouldn’t suit the area and would ruin the park. They were frustrated to learn about it through friends, fliers or Facebook instead of from the city.

“There’s been no information at all,” said Tracey Trout, who lives next to the Williams property. “It seems like it’s behind closed doors. We live right here. You’d think that would affect us.”

The project is in the pre-application step, city administrator Jan Berg said. That means nothing has been reviewed or approved. The developer met with city and sewer district staff to talk about improvements for roads and sewer.

“It’s the same with any developer,” Berg said. “If they’re going to propose a project, they need to know what infrastructure they might have to pay for. They were early in the process. The city didn’t even have an application to put through a public process yet.”

City staff have communicated well with Williams Investments, Shockey said. The disconnect seems to be between the city and residents who felt blindsided by the project proposal.

“A whole bunch of people came in saying, ‘Don’t you dare, we don’t want it,’” Shockey said. “Our message to the city is, look, whatever you want downtown to look like, we’ll develop the property in a way that fits with that.”

For now, they’ve tucked away the apartment plans and will “dust them off” if that’s the direction the subarea plan takes, he said.

One of the most contentious pieces of the plan was the Williams’ interest in buying city property near North Cove Park for a second phase. The parcel is not part of the park and there’s no guarantee the city would sell it, Shockey said. Even if they did, Berg said there still will be a park and lake access at North Cove. The subarea plan will help decide what that could look like years from now.

Neighbors say they plan to participate in the planning and hold the city to their decisions.

“We’re not dumb. We know something is going to be built there,” Trout said. “We just don’t want special allowances to build something that doesn’t fit on the lake.”

Ivy Jo Houghten can see the park from her window and can’t imagine a six-story building. There’s a reason for building setbacks and height restrictions, she said.

“It’s a really sensitive spot for the lake,” she said.

Though Williams Investments has promised to wait, she’s not convinced things have been put on hold.

“I’m still worried,” she said. “I think he said that to appease the room.”

In an open letter, Mayor Vern Little urged people to help with downtown planning. Public workshops start in January. The park board, planning commission and City Council plan to host presentations in the spring, followed by more workshops in June. The council’s final hearing and vote on the plan is set for July or August. A full timeline is on the city’s website, Dates should be decided soon. Anyone can join an email list for notifications about the planning process and upcoming meetings. To be put on the list, email

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439;

Talk to us

More in Local News

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee speaks with special ed Pre-K teacher Michelle Ling in her classroom at Phantom Lake Elementary School in Bellevue, Wash. Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times via AP, Pool)
Governor: Educators are now eligible for coronavirus vaccine

“This should give educators more confidence,” Jay Inslee said. Other frontline workers could soon be next.

A view of the courtyard leading to the main entrance of the new Stanwood High building on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2020 in Stanwood, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Law gives Washington high school seniors leeway to graduate

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that can waive some requirements for students who were on track before the pandemic.

About a dozen metal dinosaurs sit in the front yard of a home owned by Burt Mason and Mary Saltwick on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021 in Freeland, Washington. The couple are used to finding strangers in their yard and taking photos. Every year on their trip to Tucson, Burt and Mary bring home another figure  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Dinos on Whidbey? This Freeland yard is a Jurassic Park

These creatures from long ago won’t chomp or chase you, and you’re welcome to visit.

Maryville Getchell High School students Madison Dawson, left, Kaden Vongsa and Jenasis Lee, who made a presentation to their school board discussing mental health, lack of resources and personal stories of their peers mental health struggles. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Students plead for better mental health support from schools

Three Marysville Getchell seniors want more counselors and improved training for staff.

Parked tractor-trailers line the side of 40th Avenue NE on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021 in Marysville, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Worker wonders why dead end Marysville road is rough and rutty

A stretch of 40th Avenue NE is mostly used for heavy trucking and isn’t in line for repairs soon.

Camano Island shooting leaves father dead; son arrested

Dominic Wagstaff, 21, was taken into custody late Sunday for investigation of the murder of Dean Wagstaff, 41.

Jean Shumate (left), seen here during a February 2019 school board meeting, will retire June 30 after 20 years at the Stanwood-Camano School District superintendent. (Skagit Valley Herald)
Stanwood-Camano superintendent to retire after 20 years

Jean Shumate has been at the helm longer than any other superintendent in Snohomish County.

A boy raises his hand during a lesson at Starbright Early Learning Center on Friday, June 5, 2020 in Everett. The Snohomish County Council is expected to vote Wednesday on a measure that would add early learning centers to a spending plan for the Puget Sound Taxpayer Accountability Account. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)
County Council proposes to address a big pre-K learning gap

Members are rethinking how to spend earmarked education money to “make a real difference.”

Mark Mulligan / The Herald
Sunset Falls cascades down past the existing fish ladder along the Skykomish River east of Index, February 4, 2014.
Photo taken 20140214
New hatchery on Skykomish to end practice of importing fish

A plan to capture fish from Sunset Falls near Index and release them in the river is open for public comment.

Most Read