Truck noises at Snohomish Station store keeping neighbors awake
SNOHOMISH — Around 4:50 in the morning, the beeping starts. The machines rumble, and pallets are unloaded from truck to dock behind the Fred Meyer store at Snohomish Station.
The noise carries through the early-morning air and
echoes, loudly, into the homes of the residents of 95th Drive SE, which is on the hill above the big box store. It’s been going on for years, but the neighbors have had enough — of not just the noise,
but the fact that the hours prohibiting loading and unloading between 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. have not been honored.
So the neighbors went to City Hall. City Hall called Fred Meyer about it. Nothing changed.
City planning director Glen Pickus told the City Council last week that the city’s formal recommendation is to take no action, calling it a private civil dispute between private residents and a private business owner.
These neighbors want the city to enforce its noise ordinance, but the ordinance doesn’t directly address loading dock noise issues.
“It’s not okay,” said neighbor Cheryl Mazurek, who lives behind Fred Meyer. “It’s every morning, seven days a week, this loading dock
noise. We’ve called 911, we’ve called the non-emergency number, we’ve talked, we’ve asked, and begged and pleaded. All in all, there’s nothing holding them to that — we need something on paper; a legal document or an ordinance.”
Residents lodged their complaints to the city since the store is within city limits. The neighborhood is just outside city limits. Pickus said this makes this “somewhat complicated” as the city and county have differing noise regulations.
“We could enforce this as a public disturbance noise… but once again, the penalties for violating this are probably not enough to change behavior and we could wind up in court,” Pickus said.
The City Council discussed the noise issue surrounding Fred Meyer and the complaints from neighbors at its July 18 meeting.
Council members were sympathetic but said the issue should be resolved through talking, not through a city ordinance. Mayor Tom Hamilton offered to facilitate a meeting between neighbors and businesses to find a solution.
“It gets a little tiresome, because sympathy runs dry,” Mazurek said post-meeting. “We are going through the appropriate channels — it’s appalling that the representatives of this community can’t do their job and are choosing instead to play it safe.”
Public comments from affected residents held a tone of disappointment and frustration.
One neighbor to Snohomish Station said the noise continues beyond the hours of operation and six hours of peace is not enough and unacceptable.
“The best resolution is for the parties to be able to sit down and talk,” Mayor Tom Hamilton said at the meeting. “Most of the discussion that has happened at this point in time, up until now, the discussions have been helicopter discussions. We’ve never really gotten down to how we can solve this issue.”
Councilman Dean Randall agreed and said he was sympathetic to the residents, saying it is best if the residents and Fred Meyer work it out instead of the city coming in with a hammer to set new ordinances. Councilwoman Lynn Schilaty agreed that communication was the solution, not a new ordinance.
After the council meeting, the neighbors felt the city was siding with ‘big business’ and not with the residents.
“The City Council made it clear that they favor big business at the expense of the citizens,” said neighbor Shawn Gay, who first brought the issue to the city’s attention over a year ago. “They’re worried that businesses are going to say no (to a stricter noise ordinance)– and not bring their businesses to Snohomish. They see tax dollars. They don’t see what we go through even though we’ve been telling them. ... We shop local — we are part of this community too even though we live 200feet outside of Snohomish proper.”
She added: “I’ve had other people who live in-city reach out to me telling me they are going through the same thing at other stores in town. The city isn’t enforcing its noise ordinance.”
Gay said her and her neighbors’ quest is far from over. They plan to organize town hall meetings and to hear from the other residents who have noise complaints but feel the city isn’t enforcing the code, and they also plan to push for a new or updated noise ordinance that makes it clear to both businesses and residents when noise should and should not occur.
Gay wanted to make the effort clear, though: “we are pro-business, we support shopping local and want our community to thrive, but not at the expense of our peace.”
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