Three Lakes

A blog for members and friends of Three Lakes Neighbors for Responsible Growth, dedicated to monitoring and maintaining the rural environment of central Snohomish County, Washington

Monday, March 03, 2008

Fire damages houses in the Street of Dreams . . .

Our county has made it into the national news today because someone took extreme measures to attempt to deal with some of the issues that have frustrated the residents of our rural neighborhood. I'm not condoning their methods--but I certainly think these issues need to have a wider exposure in the media and on the internet. If you want more information on the actual news, you can check it out here or here in the mainstream media.

The following are comments that I've posted in the comments section on Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and the Dateline Earth blogs:

As someone who has been involved in fighting off one of the RCD's (Rural Cluster Subdivision) a bit further north in Snohomish county, I'm very familiar with the frustrations that the people who already live in a rural area suffer when the developers move in and take over a neighborhood. The RCD law allows them to cram a bunch of houses on small lots (cluster) into a neighborhood that has been zoned for more dispersed populations. The theory is that this will allow preservation of the rural character by dedicating some of the land to be eternally undeveloped.  But it still introduces a whole bunch of traffic and additional people into a rural neighborhood, without really taking care of the environmental impacts. And if the neighbors disagree with the development, the law is supposed to set standards that will mediate the issues and assure that things meet standards.
There are two major problems with all this: the developers have money or resources to fight back against the neighbors who don't have the money, and the County government misinterprets the law (in favor of the developers); thus forcing the neighbors to move into the court system (at great expense) to have the law enforced. In our case the final decision that we could afford was made by the County Council, politically based, and in spite of fighting politically in previous elections, we were at the mercy of the developers. It's now more fairly balanced (after two elections) but we still lose.
An irony is that some of the people who now live in our neighborhood (on a ten acre lot) moved here to escape the development down by Woodinville, and when they got here found the developers ahead of them.
Another irony is that the developers in our neighborhood apparently can't find customers because of the housing downturn, so even though they have an approved development permit they haven't started yet. So we have a reprieve.  Maybe we'll have our lawyer bills paid off before they start.

In spite of our frustrations, I doubt that anyone in our neighborhood would go to the extreme or burning down a development, or even part of it.


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