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Wednesday, March 28, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Quinn's Crossing gets go-ahead

Times Snohomish County Bureau

A controversial development near Echo Lake can proceed after a final vote by the Snohomish County Council last week.

The council approved 4-1, with Councilman Dave Somers opposed, allowing Michael Huey the right to develop on 114 acres that neighbors say is full of critical wetlands needed to protect an aquifer used by about 20,000 people in the area.

Called Quinn's Crossing, and selected to be the site of the 2007 Street of Dreams developer show, the development will be home to nearly 50 families once completed. What's troubling some residents nearby is the impact those families could have on the aquifer, which is the drinking-water source for the area's Cross Valley Water District.

Because of the land's location in rural Snohomish County, the luxury homes will be built using septic systems with drain fields ending very close to critical areas such as the wetlands. While wetlands are a good way to dilute pollutants before groundwater enters an aquifer, residents fear the natural system will be overloaded by the septic arrangement.

The development has passed the muster of agencies like the Snohomish Health District, which must approve septic-system designs, and the county's planning department. Developers say they've continually altered plans to accommodate those concerns and protect the aquifer.

After a council ruling on an appeal in August, Huey must monitor water quality before and after homes are built. That's already being done, but last Wednesday, Somers questioned how such a plan would be enforced if water quality deteriorates and who would then be responsible.

"I will make sure that this monitoring report gets put together and enforced somehow," he said.

Residents hoped the council would delay its approval until an appeal before the health district over the septic-system approval is completed. It also believed the council would wait while the Army Corps of Engineers investigated the potential filling of a wetland by the developer.

But the Corps has resolved its issue and sees no need for further action, according to the county prosecuting attorney's civil division. With that out of the way, the council members saw no need to delay the development further.

"The final plat meets the requirement of the state and county codes," said councilman Gary Nelson.

Other issues also have been raised during the past two years by residents, including protection of nearby Bear Creek's headwaters, home to endangered Chinook salmon and access to hiking and horse trails that connect with the adjacent county-owned Paradise Valley Conservation Area. Each was settled by the county hearing examiner or council during appeals, said council chairman Dave Gossett.

Already, model homes are being built on the site and road improvements are being made, Huey said. None of the lots has been sold yet, but they will go on sale shortly.

On July 14, Quinn's Crossing will be the site of Street of Dreams, where five upscale homes built by different developers and furnished by designers will be available for public touring and then sale.

The site was selected last year and advertised as "Puget Sound's first environmentally sensitive residential community exclusively committed to smaller scale residences with the touches found in the larger, more elegant homes."

Christopher Schwarzen: 425-783-0577

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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