Tom Campbell’s Jan. 7 guest commentary in The Herald, (“Time is now to make sure growth meets our wishes.”) points out many of the development flaws that are harming our streams, killing our salmon, and clogging our streets with traffic.
Snohomish County’s Planning and Development Services approves plats allowing developers to rezone properties to much higher densities than current zoning. Lots that were zoned for one house every 9,600 or 7,200 square feet are now zoned down to lots as small as 4,000 square feet with houses only 10-feet apart. While this may maximize developer profits, it eliminates the possibility of low- impact development treatments for stormwater.
Such treatments allow stormwater to be infiltrated into the shallow groundwater layer, reaching our streams in late summer when they are running dry. End of pipe stormwater treatments like detention vaults and ponds allow stormwater to runoff in winter, without infiltrating. The county recently settled a lawsuit with the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance mandating implementation of low-impact methods. If the county is going to meet its obligations under this settlement, it must halt this higher density rezoning if low-impact stormwater treatment is not provided.
The county planning department must also halt its policy of issuing land-disturbing and other building permits to applicants who are delinquent in their property tax payments. These tax scofflaws often fail to properly install erosion controls, yet take advantage of county services, while taxpaying developers are placed at a disadvantage. The County Council must require its planning department to verify property taxes are current before any permit issuance; and that the property tax remain current through the life of any permit.
Urban Growth Area boundaries must be held at their current location. Expanding the UGA east using “land swaps” will result in more urban sprawl that will harm the environment and have us all sitting hours in traffic.
Now is indeed the time to speak out for sensible growth to protect our way of life.