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, www.ci.lake-stevens.wa.us. 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 lsplanning@lakestevenswa.gov.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com

Talk to us

More in Local News

FILE - In this photo taken Oct. 2, 2018, semi-automatic rifles fill a wall at a gun shop in Lynnwood, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee is joining state Attorney General Bob Ferguson to propose limits to magazine capacity and a ban on the sale of assault weapons. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Democrats advance assault weapons ban, new rules for gun buyers

The measures passed a House committee without Republican support. They are part of a broader agenda to curb gun violence.

A person and child watch seagulls on the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry in Washington on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Cold weather returning to Western Washington

Nightly temperatures in the 20s with highs in the 30s were expected this weekend. Cold weather shelters will be open.

Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times
Former VA-115 member Jack Keegan speaks at a presentation on base commemorating the last crew from NAS Whidbey Island shot down during the Vietnam War.
Whidbey Island air base honors crew lost in Vietnam War

NAS Whidbey Island will host several upcoming events commemorating the end of the Vietnam War.

New Monroe superintendent Shawn Woodward during his panel interview on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023 in Monroe, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Incoming superintendent says he’s ‘done homework on Monroe’

Shawn Woodward has faced issues of racism, equity and inclusion as the leader of the Mead School District near Spokane.

James Lewis
COVID still ‘simmering’ in the county, while booster uptake remains low

Meanwhile, flu and RSV cases have plummeted, suggesting the “tripledemic” could — emphasis on “could” — be fading.

Everett police have made an arrest in a Saturday shooting at Player's Sports Bar & Grill. (Everett Police Department)
Charges: Everett bar shooting suspect faces up to 50 years in prison

Francisco Cuahutemoc Vazquez has a violent history that dates to 2015, when he was involved in gangs.

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring is this year's winner of the Henry M. Jackson Award given by Economic Alliance Snohomish County. Photographed in Marysville, Washington on April 25, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Marysville State of the City address set for Feb. 1

Mayor Jon Nehring will highlight 2022 accomplishments and look to the future. Questions from the audience will follow.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
A move to require voting and a bicameral chasm on vehicle pursuits

It’s Day 19 and the mood is heating up as the third week of the 2023 legislative session comes to an end.

Lynnwood County Council candidate Joshua Binda is the subject of two complaints with the Public Disclosure Commission. (Josh Binda campaign photo)
Binda fined $1,000 for misuse of campaign contributions

The Lynnwood Council member’s personal use of donor funds was a “serious violation” of campaign law, the state PDC concluded.

Most Read