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Federal Way housing development addresses wildlife impact
The Soundview Manor project is set to create 21 single-family lots on a 9.01-acre property near Dash Point Road and 44th Avenue SW.
The project has some residents concerned about its possible impact on the environment in the area, which includes a small stream and wetlands that feed into the Dumas Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.
Local resident Marie Larrison is also concerned about the project's impact on flora and fauna.
"I think these guys (the city and the developers) are taking a very narrow view of the whole issue of the wetland and its impact on the wildlife sanctuary," Larrison said. "I don't think they know what kind of wildlife use that area. It's heavily wooded, so they're going to have to bring bulldozers and who knows what else in there. We just think it's going to have a significant adverse impact."
The city feels otherwise. The project has met a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) determination of non-significance for its impact on the environment, said city spokesman Chris Carrel.
The SEPA decision was issued Aug. 3, 2012. Approximately 30 percent of the site will remain undeveloped in a combination of landscaped areas, wetland buffer area (for the off-site wetland) and open space, Carrel said.
"The wetland is actually located off-site, while buffer areas are on the Soundview Manor property," he said. "SEPA provides for a thorough review of possible impacts to the local environment."
The project, which was originally submitted in 2007, has had something of a rocky road in getting approved.
At one point, the project's scope was larger, with the initial proposal set to develop 28 single-family lots, and also create a connecting roadway between Dash Point Road and the Twin Lakes neighborhood.
In 2008, more than 500 residents signed a petition and approximately 50 residents wrote letters in opposition to the road connection being part of the project. The developer and city have since dropped that part of the project, according to Carrel.
Regardless of the determinations of the city, Larrison still feels the city and developer are missing the bigger picture.
"I think somebody just looked at a map that shows streets and lots and parks," she said. "There's all kinds of wildlife that come here. Ducks, mallards, even sea otters."
The next step for the project, according to Carrel, is a hearing in front of the hearing examiner. The city council will then hear the issue at a special meeting and issue a final decision on the Soundview Manor preliminary plat.
According to the state Department of Ecology, the comment period for a SEPA determination of non-significance is typically 14 days, although that time period can vary. The date for the hearing examiner has not yet been set, according to signs placed on the property.
In a summary report provided to The Mirror by the city, the city touches on the issues of the stream and wetlands. The report notes that the developer is aware of both the stream and wetland issues, and has included mitigation in its proposal for any potential impact on either. The developer has indicated that buffers will be constructed to control drainage and stormwater runoff and maintain the wetlands.