By David Clay
For The Herald
If you live in or around Highway 9 and Hewitt Avenue in Lake Stevens, you may want to be involved in whether a new Costco should be built at that intersection.
Many are opposed to this location for another 170,000 square-foot big box store with 850 parking stalls and a 30-pump gas station, covering more than 36 acres. The City of Lake Stevens has been quietly working with Costco to get this development approved and built with as little public input as possible, but fortunately there are people who care about our community, and we want the city to stop this development.
There are many concerns: traffic, noise, loss of wetlands, impacts to salmon and orcas, an endangered species of pond turtle, pollution of Puget Sound, and loss of quality of life.
East Snohomish County has been growing at a rapid rate for more than 25 years, and infrastructure and environmental protections have taken a backseat to development. Sometimes public outcry can make a difference, as it did when the city tried to push another big box development at Cavalero Road and Hewitt Avenue back in the early 2000s. That fight was over much of the same issues as today: too much traffic feeding onto the Hewitt Avenue trestle every morning, impacts to the rural area south of the city boundary, and how sprawling big box development and its associated impervious surfaces hurt water quality. That area is now a county park!
Commute times on and off the Hewitt Avenue trestle continues to be a terrible traffic problem. With no funding identified to expand the trestle, and despite adding lanes and traffic signals along Hewitt Avenue, traffic has gotten worse, not better. We all know that Highway 9 is a traffic nightmare. Every weekday afternoon from the Costco in Woodinville to past Frontier Village, it is stop-and-go traffic, even with the partial widening in parts of that stretch of highway.
I share concerns with my neighbors how Costco and its proposed traffic plans will actually make traffic better, or at least not worse. I am not at all convinced that — taking away access to Highway 9 at South Lake Stevens Road, rerouting cars onto a new road (24th Street) to make a sharp right into a roundabout onto Highway 9, just a few hundred feet from the intersection with Hewitt Avenue — will make traffic better, especially during the horrendous afternoon commute. Why is the state Department of Transportation even considering such a traffic plan? Adding more and more cars to enter onto Highway 9 that close to one of the busiest intersections along that highway is ludicrous, especially when it is just to ensure a big box store is built at that location in order for Lake Stevens to generate more tax revenue.
Our local news is filled with reports of Puget Sound pollution and the threats to chinook salmon and orcas. While there are heroic efforts with our tax dollars in process to help restore salmon habitat, allowing yet another Costco when there are already six within a 20-mile radius of this proposed location, just doesn’t make sense when we know that such development affects the survival of these endangered species and adds to pollutants that are killing Puget Sound.
The area of this proposed Costco is filled with valuable wetlands that feed into the pristine Moser Creek, home to salmon. We know that destroying wetlands also contributes to pollution of groundwater that ends up in Puget Sound. We must be protecting our remaining wetlands. We can’t keep filling them in and using detention systems and mitigating wetlands elsewhere; If this worked, why do we have such a problem!
For those of us who do not live in the city of Lake Stevens, we appear to have little power in how this Costco development will impact our rural community to the south. How will this Costco development impact Cavalero Road and South Lake Stevens Road? Where is the plan to mitigate the increased noise? That information is missing from Costco’s transportation analysis and is not in the city’s Transportation Element. How will it affect other wetlands and Moser Creek outside of the city limits? The city’s tax revenue should not supersede these important concerns.
If you feel as I do that this location is not where another Costco should be built, please get involved and join the growing number of people who agree with me and let the City of Lake Stevens know and ask to be a Party of Record.
David Clay is a 25-year resident of Lake Stevens.