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Gridlock, growth in Maltby are focal points at meeting

MALTBY — The Snohomish County Council took to the road and heard an earful about traffic and development in the town of Maltby at its April 2 meeting.
Four council members, minus an out-of-state Stephanie Wright, assembled at the Brightwater Environmental Education and Community Center in Woodinville before approximately 150 fired up locals.
The long line of commenters shared two chief concerns: congestion in the Paradise Lake Road vicinity, and growth, particularly a proposed 360-unit apartment complex just east of 522 and Paradise Lake Road.
A panel of government leaders and staff including state Sen. Guy Palumbo, state Rep. Shelley Kloba and County Executive Dave Somers expressed sympathy, and Somers volunteered two peace offerings.
Maltby travelers on Paradise Lake Road complained that the aging roadway wasn’t keeping pace with current traffic volumes.
More than one spoke about bottlenecks with 15-minute waits to cross the road at busy intersections around the conjunction of state Routes 522, 524, Paradise Lake Road and Yew Way.
Others described daily morning and afternoon lengthy gridlocks and multi-mile backups.
The audience laughed to hear Palumbo, also a Maltby resident and business owner, admit he, too, made the occasional illegal left turn on the shoulder to traverse the troubled intersection.
Despite the public pressure, a road fix is a no go for now.
The state Department of Transportation does plan to replace the existing intersection at state Route 522 and Paradise
Lake Road. The catch; the project has not received construction funding and a significant portion of design work is not scheduled to begin until 2025.
Palumbo’s “primary goal is to get the $56 million needed for construction of a 524/522 interchange into next year’s transportation budget,” said senatorial spokesman Rick Manugian in an email. “Failing that, he at minimum wants to move up $10 million (slated
for use in 2025) to begin designing the interchange and road widening sooner. He also wants $3.5 in new funding to provide a short-term solution by adding real turn lanes eastbound and westbound at Paradise Lake Road.”
While Palumbo and Councilman Sam Low, who represents Maltby, spoke to traffic concerns, Somers brought news addressing residents’ concerns about growth.
Somers’s first gift was enhanced access to legislators. He instituted The Maltby Area Advisory Board, to be comprised of three residents and three business owners serving two-year terms. The county’s planning commission chairman, Jim Langston, will also chair the group.
The committee is tasked with advising the county about growth given the sometimes contentious coexistence of residents and businesses in the rapidly but awkwardly developing region.
Somers’s second peace offering was an indefinite suspension of possible changes to the county’s commercial and industrial standards. The county planned to amend its standards at the end of April. Residents’ fears that the amendments would open Maltby and other areas to excessive business development led Somers to withdraw the plan.
The suspension was a relief to some but would not delay plans for residential growth including an estimated 1,116 tenants at the proposed Paradise Lake Road Garden Apartments.
The outcry against such a large development in the rural community had been strong and steady since an Arizona based developer, The Wolff Company, submitted the proposal in November 2016.
The county sent a proposal review letter detailing 28 points of concern for the developer to address in March of last year.
Among them, a notice of more than $1 million in mitigation fines to be paid to the Monroe school district for the estimated 168 children who would live in the apartments. The developer was also tasked with addressing zoning, transportation and environmental concerns: and Wolff would need to categorize and respond to concerns raised by residents in hundreds of letters.
The developer has not responded to the county’s review letter Barb Mock, the county’s planning and development services director, told the crowd.
The developer has until November 2019 to respond before the application expires said project manager Tom Barnett in an email.
Mock said it remained to be seen if an environmental review would be needed but that there would be a public hearing before a decision was made whether to allow the build.
The next out of town County Council meetings are 6 p.m. Monday, April 23 at the Weston High School Commons, 4407 172nd St. NE, Arlington and 6 p.m. Monday, April 30 at the Mountlake Terrace City Council Chambers at 6100 219th Street SW in Mountlake Terrace.

 

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