Tulalip Tribes worry about traffic, salmon in land sale case

The Grove Church hopes to sell property to a Texas builder. The plot borders the reservation.

MARYSVILLE — The Tulalip Tribes want to keep a contractor in Texas from buying land here.

The Grove Church is selling a plot in northwest Marysville that borders the Tulalip Indian Reservation.

The out-of-state builder applied for a land use permit to construct nearly 170 houses in the rural area. Marysville approved the request, and the tribes appealed the decision in Snohomish County Superior Court weeks later.

They’re concerned the development would pollute parts of West Fork Quilceda Creek and harm endangered salmon populations, according to court papers. They also are worried traffic would become worse in Tulalip. There’s one road to get in and out of the proposed neighborhood.

The property is at 3211 140th Street NE. The middle of that road is the northern boundary of the reservation. The Texas company, called LGI Homes, applied about a year ago to build 168 houses on nearly 60 acres there. The land is worth about $5 million, according to the church.

Houses in the next plot over were built in the 1990s. That neighborhood doesn’t meet the standards of today, said Dave Koenig, the city’s community development director. They’re around Nina Lake, which also filters into Quilceda Creek — the main stream that drains through Marysville and Tulalip.

The city’s involvement concluded when its hearing examiner decided to approve the request in May, Koenig said.

“We did our due diligence following our codes,” he said. “At this point there is no further action on our part, but depending on the court case we may have to respond in some way.”

The tribes’ May filing in civil court names the city as a party. The sides were last in court Oct. 8.

The new neighborhood could add as many as 1,500 more car trips per day on 140th Street NE, which has two lanes. Railroad tracks and I-5 are to the east of the property and Nina Lake to the west. The city would consider adding another road if the homes were built, according to court papers.

Stormwater runoff draining into West Fork Quilceda Creek is another concern for the tribes, as salmon species spawn there. The plat is upstream from the reservation, and the tribes are worried it could affect their other water sources.

The streams in this area have been habitat for endangered fish such as chinook and steelhead salmon, and bull trout. Other species that aren’t endangered, including coho salmon and cutthroat trout, also are known to spawn there.

The tribes don’t have a problem with The Grove Church, said Les Parks, who’s on the Tulalip Board of Directors.

“We’re not trying to do anything to hurt the church,” he said. “What we are trying to do is protect our resources, our reservation.”

He would like to see stricter laws in Marysville to further protect the salmon habitat.

The property has been for sale for about five years. Back then, the tribes had an opportunity to buy it, Parks said. He wishes they would have.

They would be willing to discuss it now, he said.

“Whatever the church is selling the property for, just come talk to us,” he said.

The grounds were supposed to be used for a new church when it was purchased about 20 years ago, said Nik Baumgart, the church’s lead pastor. Now, money from the land sale would be used to expand the church on Grove Street.

The sale hasn’t gone through yet. The Texas company was chosen because its offer was the one the church “felt best about,” Baumgart said in an email.

“We are simply intent on selling the property so we can move beyond owning it,” Baumgart said.

LGI Homes has built houses in Mount Vernon, and in King and Pierce counties. Its website recommends shopping at Seattle Premium Outlets and visiting the Tulalip Resort Casino for entertainment, both on the Tulalip reservation.

Additional hearings are pending in the court case.

Stephanie Davey: 425-339-3192; sdavey@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @stephrdavey.

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