Woods working

  • Sue Waldburger<br>Enterprise writer
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 11:36am

Neighbors have resigned themselves to the inevitability of a new housing development in the woods across from Seaview Park in Edmonds.

They say they just want it built in a responsible manner and plan to monitor the project until they’re certain it will be.

Angler’s Crossing is the project that has prompted neighbors to be on a first-name basis with planners at Edmonds City Hall. The 27-home, planned residential development (PRD) is proposed for a 5.6-acre site at 80th Avenue West and Olympic View Drive, at approximately 184th Street Southwest. Entrances would be off 80th Avenue West and Olympic View Drive.

If approved, it will create a new neighborhood of two-story, approximately 2,000-3,500-square-foot, single-family homes. Prices likely will be in the $600,000-$700,000 range, according to Mark McNaughton, owner of The McNaughton Group, which wants to develop the project.

The Edmonds-based McNaughton Group is a development company. It would sell the home sites to one or possibly two builders, McNaughton said.

The property is owned by Dr. Han Z. Park and Regina K. Park of Edmonds. A deal is in the works to sell the parcel to The McNaughton Group.

Over the years there has been interest by several developers in the site that boasts steep slopes; a small wetland; and thick stands of alder, Douglas fir and other 50-plus-year-old trees. At the Parks’ request, the Edmonds City Council approved in 1998 a property zone change from R-12 to R-8 and other specific conditions governing a future housing project. Proposed amendments to the ordinance governing the earlier contract rezone required the applicants to resubmit the project to the city for consideration, which they did last year. Last spring city staff recommended denial of the proposed amended contract rezone, which was headed to the Planning Board for review. Steve Bullock, senior planner, said the changes amounted to “pretty much stripping the site down to nothing and building a regular sub-division on it.”

A PRD, given the built-out status of Edmonds and the in-filling necessary for new construction, is allowed certain leeway in exchange for considerations of benefit to the public good. For example, houses may be built closer together than normally allowed if open green spaces are retained.

The applicants pulled the project just before the April hearing date. A revamped proposal was submitted to the city on July 27.

The revised project, which now features smaller foot prints and revised grading plans to keep homes within the 25-foot height requirement, now will go before the Architectural Design Board for review. ADB comments will accompany the project when it’s sent to the Hearing Examiner for a final decision, probably in October, according to Bullock.Any appeal of that decision must go through Superior Court; Edmonds City Council is not in the appeal “loop.”

Neighbors admit they are unhappy with the pending demise of much of the woods, increased traffic and the likelihood they will be staring into rooftops rather than treetops. But they are focusing their opposition on environmental factors and have retained legal representation to help convince the city of the validity of their arguments.

Among those leading the charge are Duane Farmen, who has lived across from the site on 80th Avenue West for 36 years.

“This is what I’m trying to save,” exclaimed Farmen, gesturing toward the massive trees bordering 80th Avenue West. Most of the trees are on a small section of city-owned land that the developer plans to buy if the project moves forward.

Farmen is adamant that open spaces be passive to preserve their natural appeal. He also is concerned about traffic worsening and safety conditions on and over the steep 80th Avenue West hill that crests in front of his house as well as on Olympic View Drive, where he’d like to see a left-hand-turn lane if the PRD is approved.

Land clearing to the point of allowing erosion and run-off that may adversely impact nearby Perrinville Creek is another concern of Farmen’s and others.

“We can’t fight it. We just want to minimize the impact,” conceded Lori Haugh, who lives on 181st Place, across from the site. “The scale, the number of houses” has her worried.

Among her concerns are the proposed filling of wetlands to provide level land for home sites and a road, increased traffic, safety considerations related to the four-way intersection near the proposed PRD entrance at 80th Avenue West and 184th Street Southwest and the inevitable impact on the student population at nearby Seaview Elementary.

McNaughton, who said he has been a builder in Edmonds for 18 years, commented he’s not surprised that neighbors’ concerns seem to be greater for this project than in other areas in which his company is working.

Long-established neighborhoods are “more sensitive to change,” McNaughton said. In the case of Seaview and Perrinville residents, “They look at the forest as ‘their’ green belt.” Newer neighborhoods, he added, are more comfortable with change.

If the city gives the project the green light, McNaughton said his firm will “probably be most interested in people’s individual concerns,” such as the possibility of sloughing of slopes due to the immense grading the land must undergo.

“Eighty years ago (this site) was cleared and those trees grew back,” observed McNaughton. “It will be cleared again, re-landscaped … and be good again.”

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