Hearing examiner hears aversion to
Walsh Hills housing development proposed for Chalet site
SNOHOMISH — Residents in northeast Snohomish can support reasonable growth, but many are uneasy with adding twice as many people to their neighborhood.
A proposed subdivision would fill the former 20-acre site of the Snohomish Chalet care center with 111 new houses. A hearing examiner will render a decision by the end of the month on whether they can be built here.
“The existing northeast neighborhoods are a hodgepodge ... with a web of narrow roads” is how longtime resident Milt Grover described where he lives.
There are 100 or so suburban homes on Stone Ridge Drive, Holly Vista Drive and Terrace Avenue. Pine Avenue is the only road to reach them.
Residents worry 111 more homes here would add enough traffic to make the streets dangerous for pedestrians, and particularly are concerned by the corner of 16th Street and Terrace Avenue, the key intersection to turn at when heading to and from Pine Avenue.
Hearing Examiner Andrew Reeves will decide by Jan. 27 on whether to approve or deny the subdivision. If denied, homebuilder
D.R. Horton would be sent back to the drawing board.
Twenty-one people testified before Reeves at the hearing last week, and dozens more sent written comments.
“Just look as if this should benefit the entire neighborhood,” speaker J. Michael Gallagher implored to Reeves. “They’re going to pile 110 (more) houses into 20 acres.”
The neighborhood roads are barely wide enough as it is for two cars to pass each other, a few testified.
D.R. Horton’s team defended the project.
The roads? “It sounds like an issue of City Council priorities (for the city road system),” testified Duana Kolouskova, an attorney for D.R. Horton, who noted “we are providing over $120,000” for traffic mitigation.
Terrace itself would be widened the length of 665 feet, including to the corner of Terrace Avenue and 16th Street, a traffic consultant with D.R. Horton said. A school bus stop would be added along Terrace Avenue.
The homes in the subdivision, to be named Walsh Hills, would have small yards on tight lots.
Homeowners along Stone Ridge oppose a wall being put up along the south side of the property along the back of their homes. The current view is a wooded glen. “I don’t see how that wall exhibits any neighborly considerations,” Stone Ridge resident Kirsten Carlson testified.
“The wall? I can’t believe that,” Kristine Hansen of Holly Vista Drive testified.
A zoning change made decades ago for the center before it was annexed into the city is what’s allowing the compact density of housing at the site as proposed residential. Somewhere in the 1960s, part of the land was zoned medium density residential. The rezone was when the center was a nursing home owned by the Walsh family. In the 1970s, the next generation of Walshes, Wally and Donna Walsh, took it over in 1972, and in 1975 they were prompted to have a personal purpose for turning the site’s focus into a cheerful home for people who have had serious brain injuries.
The center closed last year.
The city planning department approved the plan with certain conditions, and asked Reeves for approval at the hearing. There are more than 25 conditions to the development’s construction.
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