October 21, 2002
Do we deserve a bus barn too?
From the looks and smells of the Brightwater Sewer Plant that is coming to town, it looks like we will likely get snookered and end up with more than we are really being told.
Here's how it might play out:
Northshore School District purchased 17 acres of land along Highway 9 that was just outside of the Urban Growth Line for their badly needed bus barn, and applied for a building permit.
Surrounding citizens appealed the permit, citing primarily among other things, that the location is outside of the urban growth line, and that this kind of development is illegal. Fair enough.
The Brightwater Sewer Plant comes in, and now includes this very same land in their proposal, and tells the local residents that a sewer plant would be a much better land use than the proposed school bus barn, which would create terrible traffic congestion and terrible diesel fumes.
A very small group of uninformed local citizens buy into this, think that this would get rid of the proposed bus barn once and for all, and that a sewer plant would really help Little Bear Creek, and campaign in favor of Brightwater. Consequently, no organized opposition comes forward like the vocal opposition groups that formed in Edmonds.
On September 24th, the Snohomish County Planning Commission just happened to have passed an amendment to Snohomish County's General Policy Plan that would allow public or institutional uses on land that is outside of an Urban Growth Area.
This simply means that a bus barn can, in fact, be legally built on that very same land that Northshore School District already owns. And, that they can do it without any public hearings, since a bus barn is now an "allowed use."
Brightwater does not really need this 17 acres for their plant for a host of reasons. This particular land is the extreme northern end, and is a separate parcel from the rest of the land that Brightwater is planning on buying/condemning.
In fact, they just don't have to buy it-they can just let Northshore School District continue to own it.
It appears that this deal was a good trade-Brightwater got some buy-in from some of the community on the strength that the sewer plant would put the diesel-smoking, congestion causing, illegally located bus barn out of our back yard.
But now, all of a sudden the bus barn is not illegal, and Brightwater does not need this particular land, and therefore will not need to buy/condemn Northshore's coveted bus barn location.
I would think that Woodinville will end up with both-a smelly sewer plant, and a smelly bus barn. Have we been snookered? I think that we have been.
Terry Jarvis, via e-mail