Logging at Frognal property again an issue


February 6, 2019

The drama over construction in Picnic Point took yet another turn late last week as an apparent “full clearing” at the planned Frognal Estates property has taken place, much to the dismay of the residents in the area.

Latest situation

The area many have come to know and recognize looks drastically different, as the majority of trees are gone, leaving stumps and some trees not typically exposed to wind and other elements.

The new Frognal Estates will be next to Regatta Estates, a section of houses in Picnic Point.

On Facebook, some residents have said that the permitting for logging and other activities that have taken place are not where they need to be for what work has already taken place.

William Lider, a stormwater engineer, in an email to Snohomish County elected officials, said that the timing of the logging was poor.

“It was reckless and irresponsible for Snohomish County to approve winter removal of the Frognal forest on steep, landslide prone slopes above dozens of homes, when it is still unclear if the county approved plat can even be constructed, prior to the full LDA permit issuance,” he said.

Diane Shimko, a Regatta Estates resident also felt the timing was poor.

“It feels as though they clear-cut and now it’s just to sit there,” she said. “Didn’t (the Oso landslide of 2014) teach any lessons? We’re worried about erosion and the trees that are left. Why do it now? What was the big hurry?”

Shimko, who moved to the area just a few years ago, said she feels sorry for those who have lived in that area since before this construction was even brought up.

“Some people have been here since the beginning, over 20 years or so,” Shimko said. “Now we’ve got this big mess.”

Ryan Countryman, a supervisor in Snohomish County’s permitting department, said many claims against the county and the developers are inaccurate.

“We issued permits for forest practice (logging) and land disturbing activities (LDA) for creating logging roads and installing erosion control measures on Nov. 14,” he said. “These permits met all applicable requirements. Opponents of the project appealed Snohomish County approval, and then the appeal was dropped.”

Countryman said a second LDA permit is currently under review, and that permit would involve the construction of roads, instillation of utilities to lots, and other “large stage work.”

“We requested some changes to the plans on Dec. 24, and expect to receive revisions to this second LDA in the near future,” Countryman said. “The assertion that work has been happening without permits and approvals in inaccurate.”

Kamil Lakhani, Integral Northwest chief operating officer, echoed Countryman’s statements regarding permitting.

“The Frognal Estates project is progressing under issued permits and will continue to proceed on a step-by-step basis, like all similar projects,” Lakhani said. “The tree removal on the site is authorized by a forest practices permit, and all trees removed have been removed under the supervision of a qualified arborist.”

Additionally, Lakhani said replacement trees will be planted “in the coming months according to approved plans.”

“The project is proceeding as anticipated and as authorized by Snohomish County. Claims to contrary are incorrect,” Lakhani said.

Some residents believe that due to a lack of an approved vote by the Regatta Estates Homeowners Association to give up a portion of land for drilling by the Alderwood Water and Wastewater District, construction should be on hold.

“The county Planning and Development Department, the judges, and the Prosecuting Attorney’s office had let the harvesting of these steep slopes go forward before obtaining the necessary permit approvals for the water and sewer designs,” said Joan Smith, a Picnic Point resident. “Furthermore, the developer needed an easement through lot 74 to be 70 percent approved by the Regatta Estates (Homeowners Association). This means that the construction portion of this is on hold – indefinitely.”

(See Smith’s full comments in our Letters to the Editor section under "Opinion").

Jeff Clarke, the general manager of Alderwood Water and Wastewater, said the company has approved the availability of service for the Frognal property, and that water and sewer service are available for the development to connect to.

Clarke also said engineers have to submit plans showing the location and sizing of water and sewer lines that will serve the development.

“Those have been submitted to us, and we are in the process of review. We have not approved the designs yet,” Clarke said. “Reviews of this project are taking longer than with some developments because of its physical characteristics, which produce deep sewer lines –meaning they are buried deep under the ground surface – as well as some with steep gradients.”

Recent history

The Frognal Estates project has been discussed for more than a decade. Initially called “Horseman’s Trail,” the project will put in more than 100 new houses in the Picnic Point area. It is located down Picnic Point Road off 58th Place West and 136th Place Southwest.

The Picnic Point area has been brought up by Mukilteo city government for a long time as a possible annex zone.

Children in Picnic Point attend Mukilteo School District schools, and two elementary schools – Picnic Point Elementary and Serene Lake Elementary – are in that area.

Residents near the Frognal property have opposed the project in some facet since it was first discussed, believing that area is highly susceptible to landslides and erosion, especially given the frequency with which it rains in Western Washington. Homeowners and some environmental agencies such as the Sno-King Watershed Council have filed multiple appeals of the project, which has caused some delays, but courts have sided with the developers and with Snohomish County.

Late last year, there was more vocal opposition when developers began clearing parts of the area.

To try and prevent the crews from getting into the construction zone, nearby residents lined their cars on 58th Place West starting Dec. 3.

Deputies from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office returned to the neighborhood Dec. 5 and said workers had the proper permits and those whose cars were parked on 58th Place West needed to move them or they would be towed. One car was towed, as that citizen was at work.

The Sno-King Watershed Council filed an appeal for a temporary stoppage of logging in King County Superior Court. It wanted logging to stop until a scheduled February court date regarding forestry and grading.

Judge Barbara Linde denied the motion, and logging was allowed to continue. Shortly after, the Sno-King Watershed Council (SKWC) dropped its appeal.

In December, Lider, a SKWC board member, told The Beacon after the appeal was dropped that he and others involved don’t think the project will get full approval.

“SKWC believes that it is unlikely that Frognal Estates can ever be approved under its current design … SKWC continues to oppose this project because of the likelihood of significant environmental harm that it poses.”

Author Bio

Brandon Gustafson, Editor, Mukilteo Beacon

Brandon Gustafson was named editor of the Mukilteo Beacon in October, 2017. Born and raised in Mukilteo, Brandon attended Mukilteo Elementary, Olympic View Middle School, and Kamiak High School, graduating in 2013. After high school, Brandon attended Shoreline Community College, earning his associate's degree while playing for the school's baseball team. He then transferred to the University of Washington, where he graduated in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in communications-journalism.

Email: mukilteoeditor@yourbeacon.net
Phone: 425-347-5634
Twitter: @MukBeaconBPG


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