Design rendering of the planned 16-bed mental health treatment center north of Stanwood. (Washington State Health Care Authority)

Design rendering of the planned 16-bed mental health treatment center north of Stanwood. (Washington State Health Care Authority)

Stanwood mental health facility clears hurdle, but faces opposition

The facility passed an environmental review. A two-week comment period opened. Comments are due Oct. 3.

STANWOOD — A proposed mental health treatment center north of Stanwood has cleared an environmental review and a 14-day comment period has opened.

The proposed facility, at 300th Street NW and 80th Avenue NW, may include up to 32 beds for long-term involuntary psychiatric treatment.

The project does not have “probable, significant adverse environmental impacts,” Snohomish County Planning and Development Services said in a determination of nonsignificance on Sept. 14. The review is required under the State Environmental Policy Act.

Comments and appeals must be received by Oct. 3.

Meanwhile, a public hearing on the facility is set for Oct. 27. The county hearing examiner will consider whether to grant a conditional-use permit for the project.

The Tulalip Tribes applied for the permit in early February. The tribes plan to build a 16-bed facility and then turn it over to the state Health Care Authority. The state has an option to build a second 16-bed building at the same site.

If it goes through, the facility will provide psychiatric treatment for patients with 90- to 180-day civil commitment orders.

Mental health beds are desperately needed in Snohomish County, Health Care Authority officials have said previously. The county has just six beds for long-term involuntary treatment, all at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett.

The facility is part of Gov. Jay Inslee’s five-year plan to shift mental health treatment from large state institutions to smaller, community-based centers. The idea is to offer treatment closer to home, family and friends.

But the proposal was quickly met with opposition from many neighbors in north Stanwood. Residents voiced concerns about the facility’s impacts to neighborhood safety, property values, traffic and rural character.

Health Care Authority officials have stressed the facility will be locked and secure.

The proposed location for a 32-bed psychiatric treatment center north of Stanwood. (Snohomish County Planning & Development Services)

The proposed location for a 32-bed psychiatric treatment center north of Stanwood. (Snohomish County Planning & Development Services)

Stanwood Mayor Sid Roberts, State Rep. Greg Gilday, R-Stanwood, and Snohomish County Council member Nate Nehring also objected to the project in a letter in February.

The proposed facility is on 31 acres the tribes purchased in 2011. The property used to be an Arabian horse farm.

The Health Care Authority did not select the Stanwood-area site, officials have said. The Tulalip Tribes selected the site because the tribes already owned the land and could build the facility with a conditional-use permit, a representative of the tribes said at a virtual town hall meeting on March 22.

Two additional community meetings were held in Stanwood over the summer, both in-person. Most of the 50 who attended an open house on June 22 at the Floyd Norgaard Cultural Center expressed opposition to the facility, the Stanwood-Camano News reported. Another town hall meeting took place on Aug. 16.

Some, however, have voiced support for the project. Members of the National Alliance of Mental Illness’ state and local chapters spoke in support at the summer meetings.

The upcoming public hearing will be held at 1 p.m. Oct. 27 on the first floor of the Robert Drewel Administration Building East, 3000 Rockefeller Ave., in Everett. Information on how to attend via Zoom will be posted one week before the hearing at snohomishcountywa.gov/189/Hearing-Examiner.

Public comments may be made by email or at the hearing. Emailed comments should be sent to hearing.examiner@snoco.org.

To comment on the SEPA determination of nonsignificance, email project manager Rebecca Samy at rebecca.samy@snoco.org.

Jacqueline Allison: 425-339-3434; jacqueline.allison@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @jacq_allison.

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