Stop work and get permits, disposal company told

For months, a demolition disposal company has been operating illegally in the woods, drawing anger from neighbors for its noise and dust.

This week the company was ordered shut down by Snohomish County officials, who said the company never had the proper permits.

The company, Mill Creek-based Hungry Buzzard Recovery, must close by June 29 or obtain proper permits. Otherwise, the company faces $250-a-day fines, county officials said.

Company general manager Douglas Cooper said he had no comment on the issue. The company can appeal the county’s order.

The county has known about the business since at least December, and neighbors who complained about the racket said the county has treated the business with kid gloves.

“It’s a solid waste facility with no permits, no ecological protections, and the county is doing nothing about it,” said Oliver Graham, who lives in the Copper Creek neighborhood behind the business.

Graham and others are demanding that the business close immediately.

“Where in the code does it say they can continue to operate an illegal business while they apply for permits?” said Graham, who is a land developer.

“Developers are shocked,” Graham said. “Why are we getting permits when they don’t have to? You can get the Hungry Buzzard exception.”

Hungry Buzzard’s property is on several acres between Bothell and Mill Creek, tucked back in the woods near electrical transmission lines. The business installed pavement and gravel and built retaining walls without proper permits, county officials said.

The company rents out containers to construction job sites and later retrieves them to recycle the contents – described as building materials including roofing, wood, concrete, metal and masonry.

The property has clusters of rust-colored steel containers filled with construction waste, along with piles of debris.

The company began operations last summer, said Krista Scriver, who until last week lived across a greenbelt from the business.

She said the construction dust severely aggravated her allergies, and she packed up and moved to Snohomish.

“We would have never bought that lot had we known this operation would be moving in,” Scriver said.

Last year, construction debris dust from the business billowed into the neighborhood, worrying neighbors about possible hazardous materials.

Health district and air pollution regulators visited the site and had no concerns, county Planning and Development Services director Craig Ladiser said.

The business meets noise rules for industrial land. And it isn’t out of character for the industrial property it occupies, Ladiser said.

Problems arise when the business’s noise drifts across the unseen line that separates county industrial properties from adjacent housing, Ladiser said.

The sound of back-up warning beepers still drifts into the neighborhood, along with the crash of steel containers and materials being scooped and sorted.

“I think it needs to be shut down immediately and completely,” said Jack Kaleas, who plans a 10-home subdivision about 300 feet away from the disposal company’s site.

“They lack the proper permits, and they are the likely source of pollutants and contaminants to nearby properties and salmon-bearing streams,” Kaleas said.

In March, property owners – Leslie and Judy McClure of McClure and Sons Inc. construction – signed an agreement with the county to shut down the business by May 29. The deadline came and went, and the business was still operating as of Friday.

Calls to the McClures were not immediately returned.

In a letter to neighbors last month, Hungry Buzzard officials said they limit their truck traffic noise to the daytime to be considerate of neighbors.

Still, dozens of neighbors have been complaining. On May 30, county code enforcement officers issued a firmer order to the McClures and the company to shut down and get permits, Ladiser said.

“Thirty days is a pretty reasonable time to stop an operation,” Ladiser said.

The county code required that Hungry Buzzard be given a chance to voluntarily close and comply with rules, Ladiser said. Failing that, the county can now call for the company to shut down operations, Ladiser said.

The company has to get permits to operate legally, Ladiser said. That will require a public hearing for neighbors to air their concerns and county planners to consider rules of operation.

“These people have a right to have a say in permit approval like this,” Ladiser said.

Reporter Jeff Switzer: 425-339-3452 or

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