Conflict between Everett and blueberry farm about
Lowell-Larimer Road damages won’t be over soon
EVERETT — The city is seeking half a million dollars in reimbursement from a blueberry farm over damages sustained to the Lowell-Larimer Road.
The city alleges an excavation job in 2017 to build a drainage ditch at the farm is what undermined the road, and a city utility line alongside the road was damaged, too. It cost the city $512,724 to repair both.
In September, Everett wrote a legal summons and complaint against Golden Eagle Farms Ltd. it readied to file in Snohomish County Superior Court. The city legal office went this route after seeking a private settlement with no result, city attorney David Hall said in September.
The city is still negotiating with Golden Eagle, city spokeswoman Kimberley Cline said last week. “Our attorney indicates it could be a few more months yet.”
Golden Eagle’s corporate owners, though, said in a written statement that it investigated and found the area’s land collapse problems persisted well before the work at the farm happened. It wrote that the city’s claim that the road collapse was caused by its ditch work is “unreasonable.”
“Since the area has long been susceptible to subsidence, and must be repaired regularly to avoid losses of lateral support, the City’s claim of damages seems unsupported and misguided,” wrote Nicholas Tennant, a regulatory coordinator for Aquilini Group.
The city asserts in paperwork that the ditch removed earth support for the road, causing the problem.
The company plans to hire a geotechnical engineer to confirm its position that it didn’t, the company wrote.
The multi-acre blueberry farm is in the 7300 block of Lowell-Larimer Road within city limits.
The city fixed the road in spring 2018. It required a full road closure to fix it.
The city’s reimbursement request is for its costs in hiring a contractor to fix the road, city labor to fix the road, and hiring a surveyor and designer for the project, documents show.
Golden Eagle Farms is a subsidiary of Aquilini Group, a Vancouver, Canada-based company with subsidiaries in the restaurant, hospitality, entertainment and sports industries.
Aquilini describes Golden Eagle as one of the world’s largest blueberry companies. It produces berries across thousands of acres in the Pacific Northwest at numerous farm sites. About a decade ago, it made land buys along the Lowell-Snohomish River Road floodplain to add more berry production.
The farm on Lowell-Larimer is within the Marshland Flood Control District.
Lowell-Larimer Road was affected by a landslide in 2011, but that happened in the 5900 block of Lowell-Larimer Road, away from the site in question. Incidentally, a lane closure there lasted for over a year because the repair job was hung up by a nearby landowner, which resulted in the city condemning land along the sunken road shoulder to be able to get the job done.
The city isn’t the only entity claiming damages. A neighbor sued Golden Eagle in U.S. District Court over damages caused by excavation work to build waterways and trenches at the farm. That case is still active and may go to trial in 2020.
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